RUSTON – Hunter Slater registered three hits and drove in two runs, while Erick Hoard knocked in a pair of his own to lead Southern Miss to a 5-1 Conference USA victory over Louisiana Tech Saturday afternoon at J.C. Love Field to capture the series win.
The Golden Eagles, winners of six of their last seven games, improved to 10-6 overall as they finish the series with the Bulldogs (11-7, 0-2) Sunday at 1 p.m.
Freshman Danny Lynch got the visitors on the board first with an RBI single in the second. Brant Blaylock, who also tallied two hits, singled with one out and stole second prior to being plated on Lynch’s hit.
Southern Miss extended its lead to 4-0 with three more runs off of LA Tech starter Logan Robbins (1-1) in the third. The first five batters of the frame reached base to start the inning – four singles and a walk – with Slater increasing the lead with a run-scoring single, before Hoard added his two-run single.
Robbins, who was tagged with the loss, gave up four runs on seven hits over two-plus innings with a walk and two strikeouts.
Golden Eagle starter Stevie Powers, who worked out of a jam with runners at second and third with no outs in the second without allowing a run, breezed through until the fifth. After a strikeout of Mason Robinson to open the fifth, Powers walked back-to-back hitters and was removed from the game.
Powers allowed a run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.
Reliever Alex Nelms entered and promptly gave up a hit by pitch and a walk to Mason Mallard, which drove in the Bulldogs lone run.
Nelms then added a strikeout before junior left-hander Sean Tweedy (1-0) entered from the Golden Eagle pen and got out of the frame with a fly out to left.
Tweedy went on to throw a career-long 2 2/3 scoreless innings and recorded the victory as he gave up three hits and fanned a pair of hitters.
The Golden Eagles extended their lead on a Slater RBI double in the sixth to keep the advantage at four runs.
Hunter Stanley pitched the final 1 2/3 and fanned two to help seal the victory.
Southern Miss registered a season-high tying 14 hits in the contest as they also got doubles from Matt Wallner and Cole Donaldson.
On Friday, Matt Wallner homered in the first inning and Hunter Slater hit two more and drove in four runs as Southern Miss outslugged Louisiana Tech 12-9 Friday night at J.C. Love Field in the Conference USA opener for each time.
The Golden Eagles (9-6, 1-0 C-USA), who won for the fifth time in six games, survived a 13-hits onslaught by the Bulldogs, including four home runs.
But Southern Miss ranked out 14 hits Friday, the most in a game since the opening weekend.
Wallner got USM out of the gate quickly, cranking his third homer of the season with two outs in the first inning off Louisiana Tech starter Matt Miller to give the Golden Eagles a 3-0 lead.
The lead lasted an inning.
The Bulldogs got to Southern Miss starter Walker Powell in the bottom of the second inning, scoring five runs on five hits, including two-run home runs by Shelton Wallace and Steele Netterville and a run-scoring single by Parker Bates.
The Golden Eagles tied the score with two runs in the third inning. The first scored on a passed ball, the second on an RBI-grounder by Brant Blaylock, who was back in the starting lineup for the first time since the opening weekend.
Slater then put Southern Miss back in the lead with a one-out, three-run homer off reliever Jonathan Fincher (1-1) that put the Golden Eagles up 8-5.
Southern Miss tacked on another run in the fifth inning when Danny Lynch reached on an error and eventually came around to score on an error.
But deflated the four-run cushion by half when the first two batters in the bottom of the inning, Bates and Mason Mallard, took Southern Miss reliever Cody Carroll over the wall to pull the Bulldogs within 9-7.
After Carroll hit the next batter, Southern Miss turned to Aaron Ginn (1-0), who got out of the inning without any further damage.
Blaylock’s two-run single in the sixth got both runs back and put Southern Miss up 11-7. Tech scored once in the sixth on Bates sacrifice fly and once in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Mason Robinson.
But Southern Miss reliever J.C. Keys got through a slightly dicey eighth inning _ men on first and second, two outs _ and Slater gave him an extra run to work with when he hit his second homer of the game over the fence in right field.
Keys did just that, striking out the side in the ninth inning to pick up his second save of the season. He allowed two hits in two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
Ginn picked up the win, who allowed two unearned runs on three hits in three innings.
Fincher picked up the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) on five hits over 2 1/3 innings. He walked two, struck out four.
Slater and Wallner had three hits each for the Golden Eagles. Slater had two homers and a single, scored three runs and drove in four. Wallner had a home run, double and single, scored twice and drove in three runs.
Blaylock hit a double and single and drove in three runs. Matthew Guidry hit a pair of singles and scored three times while Erick Hoard also had two singles and scored a run.
Bates, Mallard, Robinson, Chris Clayton and Taylor Young each had two hits for the Bulldogs.
The second game of the three-game series is set for 2 p.m. Saturday.