Riding the momentum from their 15-4 win on Friday night, the Golden Eagles had to grind for their series-clinching win against FIU on Saturday afternoon, 5-1.
“It’s a different game every time you play and you’ve got to find ways to win in other ways besides out-slugging people and scoring runs,” said Head Coach Scott Berry. “Tough ballgame. They came out but we just played a little bit of better today.”
The Golden Eagles were able to score first with Hunter Slater reaching on a fielding error and Dylan Burdeaux coming home for the 1-0 lead. Through efficient pitching, the score stayed that way until the fifth inning.
The pitching duel between USM’s Hayden Roberts and FIU’s Kyle Myrick limited the runs between both teams. Between both players, they combined to give up only seven hits and struck out ten batters. The battle on the mound put zeros across the board in the second through the fourth innings.
“I thought both guys really had hitters off-balance,” Berry said. “At times, we didn’t have a good approach but [Myrick] did. When you have swing-and-misses like that, you have to take your hat off to that pitcher.”
Roberts had the first mistake as a wild pitch went by catcher Cole Donaldson’s mitts to tie the game at 1-1 in the fifth period. But, Taylor Braley answered with a right field single to drive in Slater and Storme Cooper to make the game 3-1 over FIU in the same period.
Then in the seventh, Matt Wallner singled to bring in Slater to make the game 4-1, followed by a Burdeaux RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to put FIU away for good at 5-1.
“You like to to get the feeling that you can win in multiple ways,” Berry said. “You don’t want to be a team that all you can do is score a bunch of runs because good pitching can handle that.”
Roberts started the game for USM, but it was reliever Colt Smith who got his first win of the season in three innings pitched, giving up two hits and striking out three batters. After coming in for Roberts who had a bases loaded situation with two outs, Smith’s 44 pitched balls did not yield any runs as he came out the bullpen.
“Just throwing up zero’s for the team,” Smith said. “We’re just feeding off of one another. I’m just doing whatever I can to go out there and help my team out and to come out with the win.”
The Golden Eagles will close their series with FIU on April 9 at 12 p.m.