Senior Matt Durst swings at the home plate against Murray State in the opening of the Southern Miss baseball season this weekend. -Morgan Covington
Southern Miss opened up its 2015 season against Murray State, sweeping the Racers in a three-game series.
In the first game of the series, the Golden Eagles got off to a slow start, scoring their first run in the fourth inning.
Dylan Burdeaux faced a 3-2 count in a scoreless game. With a pitch down the middle, Burdeaux launched the ball to left field and recorded his first home run of the Golden Eagles’ season. It was Burdeaux’s fourth home run of his career.
“We faced some good arms in our own guy. All of us feel really good at the plate right now,” Burdeaux said. “It was a good start. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Burdeaux went 2-4 with three RBIs and scored two runs in the opening game of the season.
Christian Talley pitched through six strong innings, giving up five hits and one earned run. Talley recorded his first win of the season over Brock Downey of Murray State. Talley threw 93 pitches, 61 for strikes, faced 23 batters and struck out 11. It was the fourth time he recorded double-digit strikeouts in his USM career.
“I always feel like I get stronger as I go,” Talley said. “I always build off of strikeouts to end the inning.”
The offense erupted in the fifth inning for the Golden Eagles with six runs off five hits. Michael Sterling, Connor Barron, Matt Durst and Burdeaux each drove in runs in the inning to widen the gap for the Golden Eagles.
Murray State replaced starting pitcher Brock Downey in favor of Brandon Hicks midway through the fifth inning.
“In the fifth inning, we had some momentum, we had some great at-bats,” USM head coach Scott Berry said. “We kind of got the momentum going for us and that’s the way I like (us) to play.”
Southern Miss held onto the lead and cruised to a 7-4 win as Luke Lowery, Taylor Braley and Ryan Milton each pitched strongly out of the bullpen. Milton picked up his first save of the season.
In the second game of the series, Southern Miss pitcher Cody Carroll got off to a poor start, giving up two runs in the first inning.
“I think he relied on two pitches today, instead of three,” Berry said. “Honestly, he gives up the two runs in the first inning, and then he settles down.”
Carroll then proceeded to only give up one run for the rest of the game. He pitched 6.2 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the game was knotted up at 3-3 and USM was looking for a spark to untie the game.
Connor Barron batted second in the inning and doubled to center field and would score on a Nick Dawson single up the middle. Nick Dawson advanced to second on a fielding error that put Burdeaux on first base, and Matt Durst was next to bat. Durst singled to center field, advancing Burdeaux to second and scoring Dawson.
Berry called for a double steal with pinch runner Chase Reeves stealing second and Burdeaux stealing third. A Ryan Ellis single to the right side scored Burdeaux while Reeves advanced to third.
Breck Kline came in to pinch run for Ellis, while Tim Lynch stepped up to the plate. Lynch doubled down the right field line, enabling Reeves to score from third and Kline to reach third from first base.
A Chase Scott single to the left side scored Kline and moved Lynch to third. Austin Roussel grounded out to second base, scoring Lynch from third to cap off a six-run seventh.
“If you look at that seventh inning, we just got that momentum rolling in that six spot,” Berry said. “(Barron) really got us going on a couple of innings.”
Barron finished the game, going 4-5 with a double, an RBI and his first homerun of the season. Barron finished the series with a .538 batting average (7-13).
The explosion in the seventh inning led to another Southern Miss win by a final score of 10-3, heading into the last game of the weekend.
The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning. James McMahon, who had pitched three scoreless innings, gave up two runs in the fourth to put Murray State within striking distance of the lead.
McMahon made his first career start for the Golden Eagles after making 37 appearances as a reliever. He allowed just two runs, five hits, four walks and had four strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. He was replaced in the sixth inning by Cord Cockrell.
The USM offense cooled off a bit, but still managed six runs on ten hits. Burdeaux led the way, going 3-4 and scored twice.
Barron went 1-4 while Dawson was hitless in four at-bats. Tim Lynch and Chase Scott had identical stat lines as they both went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
In the finale of the series, USM had to use five pitchers to close it out. McMahon and Cockrell were joined by the trio of Braley, Lowery and Milton. Milton recorded his second save of the season in the game.
Southern Miss ended the series with a 3-0 sweep of the Racers, 6-5.