The Golden Eagles earned their first sweep of the year over the weekend in a home series against Louisiana Tech.
In game one, Southern Miss starter Conor Fisk was dominant as he pitched a complete game shutout to improve his record to 4-1. He allowed just four base runners all game, three hits and one walk and struck out six.
“He had a great mix of pitches (tonight),” said Southern Miss coach Scott Berry. “He had tremendous command and he made it easy on the defense. There weren’t a lot of hard plays they had to make behind him. To throw 109 pitches and a complete game, I’m very proud of him.”
However, the offense struggled to get going as the game was scoreless going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Bradley Roney led off with a single after a 10 pitch at-bat that included five foul balls.
After Dylan Burdeaux flied out to right, Austin Roussel singled up the middle. Two batters later, Nick Dawson doubled down the line to score both Burdeaux and Roussel. That was it for the offense though, but due to Fisk’s brilliant performance on the mound, USM got the 2-0 win.
Game two was very similar as pitching dominated the game. USM starter Christian Talley tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing six hits, no walks and struck out 10. La. Tech starter Richie Navari was equally as impressive as he threw eight innings, allowing just one run on five hits and three walks.
Southern Miss scored their lone run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly. With one out in the inning, Michael Sterling singled to left and Tim Lynch followed with a single to right field to move Sterling to third. Facing a 1-2 count, Matt Durst flied out to centerfield to score Sterling who tagged up.
Reliever Ryan Milton entered the ninth with the 1-0 lead and earned his second save of the season with a 1-2-3 inning. Talley improved to 3-2 on the season while Navari dropped to 4-4.
Sunday’s finale was a much different story that saw USM race out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning. After Sterling scored on an error by La. Tech second basemen Thomas Simoneaux, Roney connected on a 3-2 pitch that he scorched to left field for a three-run homer, his second of the season.
Burdeaux followed with a single to centerfield then stole second. Roussel then singled to right field to score Burdeaux to make it a five-run inning. USM added another run in the second when Durst singled up the middle to score Sterling.
La. Tech finally broke through in the seventh inning to score their first runs of the series. The damage came off the bat of first basemen Tyler Ervine who belted a two-run homer to centerfield.
USM answered right back with two runs of their own in the inning off a Roney sacrifice fly and a Burdeaux RBI single. La. Tech (10-27, 4-17) added another run in the eighth, but the deficit was too much as USM cruised to an 8-3 victory to get the sweep. Roney picked up four RBIs in the game and Durst collected three hits.
Cody Carroll improved to 3-0 on the season as he pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and recording six strikeouts. For the series, USM starters pitched a total of 23 shutout innings, which is easily their best stretch of the season.
This was the first series all year that USM truly dominated as they outscored La. Tech 11-3 in the series.
“The challenge before today’s game was that we were two- thirds of the way to sweeping the series,” Berry said. “This team has had some opportunities to do that and had not gotten it done (before today).”
Southern Miss now trails Rice by just one game in the conference standings and have a chance to take the lead this weekend when they host Rice for a three-game series. The two teams both have five conference losses, but Rice has two more conference wins than USM.
Southern Miss (24-17, 13-5) will look to stay hot Tuesday when they travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to take on the 17th ranked Crimson Tide (28-12, 12-6 SEC) whom they defeated on a walk-off pinch-hit single from Breck Kline in February.