BOWLING GREEN, Ky. Kirk McCarty threw eight shutout innings and Matt Wallner drove in three runs to lead Southern Miss to a 6-1 Conference USA victory over WKU at Nick Denes Field Friday night.
With 13 victories in their last 14 games and six-straight road wins, the Golden Eagles (22-5 overall, 6-1 C-USA) have now enjoyed their most wins in a season in their program’s history to start the year by the end of March.
McCarty tied his career-long outing with his performance – the other coming against Xavier earlier this season – limiting the Hilltoppers (9-18, 3-4) to just six hits and no walks, while fanning a career-high 11 to get the victory and improve to 4-2 on the season.
The junior left-hander allowed just one hitter to reach base after the fifth, on a throwing error by Taylor Braley and 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced.
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Southern Miss jumped out early with a pair of runs in the opening frame. With two outs, Hunter Slater walked and Braley followed with a single to short left-center. Wallner then laced a Ryan Thurston pitch to right, scoring both runs.
Thurston (3-2) then held the Golden Eagles in check, not allowing the visitors another hit over his seven innings of work. His only blemish the rest of the way was back-to-back two-out walks to Braley and Wallner in the sixth, before Bryant Bowen reached on an infield error that scored Braley to make the score 3-0.
The WKU starter allowed three runs on four hits and four walks with eight strikeouts to suffer the loss.
The Golden Eagles then tagged reliever Michael Hicks for three runs on five hits over the final two frames and Wallner blasted a solo homer to right in the eighth for his team-leading eighth of the year and then added runs from Dylan Burdeaux and Daniel Keating on consecutive RBI doubles.
Trent Driver allowed a run on three hits for the Hilltoppers in the ninth.
The two teams return to action with a 1 p.m., contest Saturday.