HATTIESBURG -- The winning number for former Gulfport High star Daniel Keating was "3" this weekend.
In a three-game baseball series pitting Southern Miss against Northwestern State, Golden Eagle sophomore designated hitter Keating drove in three runs in a USM win on Friday, he had three hits in a USM win on Saturday and he scored three runs in Sunday's 8-5 USM victory.
For the three-game series, Keating had six hits, one home run, four RBIs and six runs scored.
And, of course, Southern Miss won all three games.
"It's always awesome to get the sweep, but we're just playing so well right now," said Keating, who is batting .429 in helping the Eagles to their 7-0 record. "We're just having a good time right now. It's always fun when you're winning.
"It feels really good. I had a tough game this week against UNO, just some timing issues. So this series, I just tried to stay with the simple approach and not do too much with the ball, just try to stay up the middle with it, just try to put some barrels on balls."
Mission accomplished, but Keating wasn't the only star for the Eagles on Sunday. Sophomore Taylor Braley hit his fifth home run of the young season and added a pair of singles. Nick Dawson drove in three runs with two doubles and a single, and freshman second baseman Storme
Cooper drove in two runs, giving him seven RBIs in only 11 at-bats this season.
Six of USM's 11 hits, and five of its runs, came from the bottom third of the batting order -- Keating, Cooper and Dawson.
"Right now, it's a tough lineup to pitch to," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "We're really hitting the ball well. The guys at the bottom are really complementing the guys in the middle and up front. So it's a tough lineup, especially to try to get through three times, not to mention four."
Northwestern State (3-4), coached by former Southern Miss assistant Lane Burroughs, had eight hits, led by Nick Heath and Matthew Alford with two apiece. Alford drove in three runs.
Five pitchers threw for USM. Sophomore Kirk McCarty (1-2) started and got the win, going 5 2/3 innings, giving up three hits, two runs, one earned run and four walks. He struck out three.
Nick Johnson, Nick Sandlin and Luke Lowery pitched middle innings while Cody Livingston threw the ninth and got his second save.
"When you struggle, it hurts," McCarty said. "I tried to get a lot of fastballs early in the count and didn't. I try to be a four-pitch guy, but when you're 1-0 or 2-0 you can't throw anything but fastballs. You try to steal a strike here or there with a changeup or breaking ball. It just makes pitching a lot harder when you fall behind. Command is everything. When you don't have it, you have to work a little harder."
But McCarty kept getting out of jams and the Eagles scored three runs in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh to take command.
Pretty soon, they had their third win of the weekend. The 7-0 start ties for the third-best start in Southern Miss history. And by the way, Keating wears No. 3 on his jersey.