The Golden Eagles not only amassed a winning record over the spring break but also commanded respect from college baseball.
“You just got to come out here and play hard, pitch well, play good defense and string together some hits,” said Dylan Burdeaux after game two against Samford. “It’s pretty much the same game plan, and then we have in-game adjustments as well.”
The Golden Eagles did that over Southern Miss’ spring break, by capturing five wins against quality competition. From the hitting and outfielding, to the home runs and bullpen, USM hit a certain groove on a well-rounded team effort through the break.
One of the brighter moments came from pitcher Cord Cockrell on Mar. 12 in game two against Samford. He allowed two runs on three hits in his seven innings of work. The hits came in plentiful, too, as the Golden Eagles hit nine against the Bulldogs, but they were clearly led by Cockrell’s arm.
Cockrell does not credit his pitching prowess to only his arm, but also to his locks of hair, which he expects to keep for a while.
“It gets in the way a lot, and it’s getting kind of annoying now,” Cockrell said.
When asked if he has any plans of cutting off his mane, Cockrell said, “not now.”
Southern Miss started off the break in a series against the Samford Bulldogs. The Golden Eagles captured a 2-1 record against Samford, including dropping game two of the series onMar.13inthefirstgameofa double-header.
After that loss, the Golden Eagles were able to bounce back and take the series after winning the last game 6-3.
“You just got to grind it out,” said outfielder Jake Sandlin after USM’s split with Samford on Mar. 13. “Long day, we were getting beat early and I’m not just talking about on the scoreboard, we’re getting punched in the face a little bit. Tough teams come up in tough situations.”
The Golden Eagles had one of the more true tests of the season with Alabama coming into Pete Taylor Park on Mar. 15. Alabama is most knowingly known for their football prowess, but an 11-4 record was nothing that USM wanted to scoff at.
“I’ve never really got into the whole SEC bias beforehand being on the outside looking in,” Sandlin said. “Now that I play those guys, yeah I want to beat them.”
The game started slow for both teams, as both teams failed to score in the first three innings. Then,
the Golden Eagles exploded to score for the next four subsequent innings to dispatch the Crimson Tide 9-2 in one of its biggest wins to date.
“Everybody that played did something,” Sandlin said. “It was a real team win.”
Sandlin led all batters going a perfect 4-of-4 from the plate, including 3 RBIs. Chuckie Robinson followed closely going 2-of-3 from the plate, bringing in four batters to score himself.
The Golden Eagles went three- deep in their bullpen as Nick Johsnon, Hunter Stevens and Taylor Braley combined to give up only seven hits and struck out eight batters.
Alabama was the last opponent before the Golden Eagles headed into conference play against Marshall. The Thundering Herd did not have a record comparable to the Golden Eagles, but USM was not ready to rest on their laurels against their conference opponents.
“You’re obviously going into conference play this year in a much better place than you have in the years past,” Sandlin said. “You’re kind of hot and got a lot of success under your belt. You’ve just got to stay hot, and it’s a brand new season, and anything can happen.”
In the first inning of the series, USM tallied three runs with a Lynch home run, his fifth of the year, and Braley brought in two runs with a single. The first inning set up an offensive onslaught that the Golden Eagles would not let up, cruising to a 14-4 win in their first conference game of the season.
In the second game of the series, Jake Winston struggled to keep Marshall off the board. He gave up five hits, five runs and only struck out two batters.
The Thundering Herd combatted a Burdeaux home run at the top of the Golden Eagle order with a three-shot home run in the bottom of the first inning themselves.
Both teams traded runs in the eighth inning going five apiece. Unfortunately for Southern Miss, they were already down 5-3 to start that inning. Marshall would go on to win 10-8 and split the series with USM.
The last game of the series belonged to Kirk McCarty, who only giving up two runs on five hits. He also struck out nine batters in his 6.2 innings of work. Led by McCarty, the Golden Eagles were able to capture the last game of the series 3-2 to have a 2-1 conference record on the year.
Southern Miss will continue its season on Tuesday when they play Tulane at MGM Park in Biloxi.