Southern Miss (7-5) won both games of a doubleheader on Friday afternoon against the Holy Cross Crusaders (1-13). Pitcher Walker Powell earned the first win of the day for the Golden Eagles in a 4-1 finish, while five effective innings from Stevie Powers allowed Southern Miss to grab a 5-3 win in Game 2.
The Golden Eagles got off to a strong start both offensively and defensively in Game 1, scoring three runs in the first four innings and allowing no hits to the Crusaders over that span. Bryant Bowen—starting at catcher in the place of an injured Cole Donaldson—and Will McGillis both hit their first home runs of the season in the contest.
Powell had the most notable performance of the game, however. The junior threw seven full innings and allowed just one run off of three hits and struck out seven batters.
“He was very effective,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “Walker covered five innings and only [had] one walk. Offensively we’re still scratching, still trying to score runs. We had a lot of solo runs, which puts a lot of pressure on the pitchers to throw those zeroes up, and they did it again today.”
Alex Nelms took the mound for the final two innings to earn the save. Nelms struck out two and allowed no runs on four hits in ten at-bats.
The second game of the afternoon played out in a similar fashion, with Southern Miss capturing an early lead and holding on with efficient pitching.
The first two runs were courtesy of Matthew Guidry, who hit a solo home run over the right-field fence in the bottom of the first inning and then a double in the third inning that allowed Gabe Montenegro to score. Later in the same inning, Bowen hit a two-run double, putting an exclamation point on the doubleheader.
“I thought Bowen handled things well,” Berry said. “Cole [Donaldson] is a little banged up from a shoulder surgery this summer, so we’re not trying to push him. But Bryant got his first home run on that solo shot in the first game, and I also thought he handled the pitching staff well at catcher.”
Powers earned his second win of the year on the mound in Game 2, surrendering just one run on four hits with five strikeouts through five innings on the mound. The save went to J.C. Keys, who allowed no hits and struck out seven batters in three innings. Keys was even one strikeout away from a rare “immaculate inning” in the bottom of the seventh.
Keys’ efforts certainly did not go unnoticed by the coaching staff.
“I was so proud of him [Keys] and the way he competed,” Berry said after the game. “And that’s what we need him to do. He’s a fourth-year senior who’s had a lot of opportunities to learn over the years. That’s what’s good about seniors, man. They’ve had all the experience you can give them and it’s just time for them to step out there and take it on their own.”
The final game of the series between Southern Miss and Holy Cross is scheduled for Saturday at noon. Senior left-hander Adam Jackson will be the starting pitcher for the Golden Eagles as they attempt a series sweep against the Crusaders.