It was a tale of two games for Southern Miss baseball's first conference doubleheader of the season, as the Golden Eagles split the Saturday games against Louisiana Tech.
After having an offensive explosion with a 14-6 win in the day's first game, the Golden Eagles were then shutout by Louisiana Tech 4-0.
Southern Miss unleashed its best offensive performance of the season with a season-high of 14 runs. The Golden Eagles accumulated four home runs and totaled 12 hits and seven walks.
"In the first game today, we are able to get some good swings and built on some momentum opportunities during that game, and we cashed in on them," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "(In Friday's game), we put ourselves in position to score, and we didn't get the hits. Today, we did in Game 1."
Southern Miss trailed 2-0 to start the game, but a pair of two-run home runs from Danny Lynch and Gabe Montenegro. gave the Golden Eagles the lead.
In the fourth inning, Charlie Fischer hit a two-run home run followed by a solo home run by Reece Ewing.
Louisiana Tech scored three runs in the fifth inning and narrowed the deficit 5-3. However, Southern Miss maintained the pressure by plating five more runs in the fifth inning and two more runs in the sixth inning.
Caleb Gibson "A Quality Hand"
Despite putting together a successful offensive performance in the first game, the Golden Eagles were held to three hits due to Louisiana Tech's starting pitcher Caleb Gibson.
Berry credited the left-handed pitcher for the Bulldogs' win in the second game.
"Gibson in Game 2 today pitched really, really well," Berry said. "He used both sides of the plate, pounded the zone, and we didn't get very good swings. He didn't allow us to get many good swings."
Gibson threw a complete as he walked one batter, allowed three hits, and struck out in his outing.
The only inning that posed trouble for Gibson was in the sixth inning as Dustin Dickerson led the inning off with a double. He then walked Reed Trimble with one out, but Gibson got out of the jam by striking out the side and ending the threat.
"(Gibson) is a quality hand," Berry said. "He showed that today. I think he is the guy that beat Ole Miss during the week and limited them to one run. I think Ole Miss has a pretty good offense, so I think it's legit in what we saw. He had good stuff tonight from the first pitch on."
"The Old Gabe Montenegro"
Gabe Montenegro has awoken from his slump after coming with his second 3-hit day in the last three games.
"He is seeing the ball, and he looked the old Gabe Montenegro today," Berry said. "In that first game, he had a 10-pitch at-bat and ended up getting a base hit. He kept fouling balls off. I was real proud with how he showed up and played today.
"Hopefully, we can keep him going and get us going at the top (of the lineup)."
Montenegro went through a 10-game stretch hitting 5-for-39; however, the leadoff hitter is now on a six-game hitting streak and has had three multi-hit games.
"I've made little adjustments throughout the season," Montenegro said. "I have felt the same throughout the season. It's just little adjustments. I have to keep doing it. Today, it just clicked.
"There was a little glitch in my swing that I had to fix. That little adjustment made a huge difference."
Montenegro finished the first game of the doubleheader 3-for-4 with three RBI and was 1-for-2 in the second game.
"A Tough Lineup"
Most fans had wondered how Southern Miss' talented pitching staff would fare against Louisiana Tech's experienced lineup.
The Bulldogs entered the series hitting .276 but have increased their batting average to .283. Between both games, Louisiana Tech recorded 16 hits.
"That's a tough lineup Louisiana Tech throws at you with seven seniors and two sophomores," Berry said. "Those first six hitters can really hurt you. If you make a mistake, they are going to put a good swing on it. They know how to hit. They have a lot of advantages under their belt because they are seniors."
In the first game, Walker Powell threw a complete game but allowed six runs off 11 hits and struck out eight. Ben Ethridge also had a tough outing as the Bulldogs took him out of the game at the start of the fifth inning. Ethridge allowed two runs off four hits, hit two batters and walked another.
"I know in years prior to now we would have lost the series today," Berry said. "Now you have to win three games to win the series or at least three. Tomorrow we have a chance to even the series, and that's what we need to do."
Sunday's first pitch is set for 1 p.m.