HATTIESBURG-- Gulfport's Daniel Keating sure picked a fine time to launch the first home run of his collegiate career.
Keating's two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth inning gave Southern Miss its first lead of the game and the Golden Eagles went on to an 8-6 victory Friday night in the opening game of a weekend series with Northwestern State at Pete Taylor Park.
The Golden Eagles (5-0) have hit at least one home run in each game this season and have 11 homers in five games after hitting 42 in 55 games in 2015.
"It's just awesome because so much momentum builds off of that," Keating said. "These last four games, a home run has sparked the offense. We can't rely on that every time, but it's great to have."
Never miss a local story.
Southern Miss, off to its best start since 2011, cranked out 12 hits Friday, giving the Golden Eagles four games with at least 10 hits or more to start the year.
But Northwestern State (3-2) made a run at the Golden Eagles, collecting 14 hits and taking advantage of three Southern Miss errors.
"Better to have an ugly win than a pretty loss," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "We didn't play very well. Overall, we made a lot of mistakes. We were very fortunate and lucky to get out of here with a win, in all honesty. But we did enough to get the win, and, hopefully, we'll learn from that and come out here (Saturday) and play better."
Starting pitchers Cord Cockrell and Adam Oller locked horns through four scoreless innings before Northwestern State (3-2) broke through on consecutive, two-out singles by third baseman Spencer Goodwin, designated hitter Matt Valdez and right fielder Bret Underwood.
No. 21 Ole Miss 6, No. 2 Louisville 5: No. 21 Ole Miss remained undefeated on the 2016 season as the Rebels (5-0) took down No. 2 Louisville in the first game of the weekend series at Swayze Field. The Rebels used a four-run fourth inning off Louisville ace Kyle Funkhouser (1-1) to hand the Cardinals (4-1) their first setback of the year.
Redshirt-junior Brady Bramlett (2-0) earned the victory on the mound, striking out eight and limiting the high-powered Louisville offense to three runs in five innings. Coming into the contest, the Cardinals were averaging over 14 runs per game. Bramlett picked up his second win of the season before junior Wyatt Short (2) added his second save of 2016. Short's save brings his career saves to 15, placing him one away from tying Jake Morgan for fifth on the Ole Miss all-time list.
At the dish, sophomore Tate Blackman extended his hitting streak to five games with a 1-for-3 performance. Will Golsan also continued to make his mark, stepping up to the plate for the third time in five games with the bases loaded and hit for a RBI. As a team, Ole Miss recorded six hits, but drew eight walks throughout the night. In six plate appearances with the bases loaded, the Rebels knocked in four runs, all during the fourth inning.
For the fourth time in five games, Ole Miss scored multiple runs in the first inning. J.B. Woodman stepped up to the plate against Funkhouser (1-1) and went yard for his second home run of the season. Errol Robinson, who previously reached on a walk, crossed the dish on the two-run homer.
Mississippi State 4 , UMass Lowell 2: Behind a strong start from junior right-hander Dakota Hudson and three-hit games by junior Cody Brown and junior college transfer Jack Kruger, Mississippi State knocked off UMass Lowell at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU (3-2) is playing four games against a pair of opponents for the second straight weekend. MSU will return to the diamond Saturday with an 11 a.m. start against Nicholls State and a 2:30 p.m. start against UMass Lowell.
"I am proud of our staff," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "We faced 35 batters and struck out 16. For the most part, we are getting a lot of swing and misses this year. We are also defending the field well for the most part.These are the kinds of games we have to win. That also allows you to relax and hopefully that means a better day offensively (on Saturday)."
Kruger carried the big bat on the opening weekend for the Bulldogs when he collected nine hits in 16 at-bats. That tear continued Friday when Kruger had three hits, a pair of RBIs and his second home run of the season. Brown also added his first three hits of the season. That offense would be more than enough for Hudson and two relievers. Hudson recorded a career-best six innings of two-hit shutout baseball with four walks and a career-high nine strikeouts.