BILOXI – South Alabama clinched the sweep of a two-game mid-week series with Southern Miss in a 4-2 win at MGM Park Wednesday night.
South Alabama starting pitcher Harrison Spruiell was impressive in 6 2/3 innings to pick up the victory. He gave up one run on four hits while striking out five and walking one.
“I thought Harrison Spruiell did an outstanding job in his first start here on a different mound against such a quality opponent in Southern Miss,” USA coach Mark Calvi said. “I couldn't ask for much more out of that guy. He gave me more than I expected. I'm super proud of that guy.”
Spruiell (1-0) did a good job of hitting his spots all night, working the corners with ease.
“He mixed it up and threw the ball well,” USM senior first baseman Tim Lynch. “We didn't adjust. They had good plans for us. They don't have the best stuff, but they executed their pitch plan. Hats off to them. They did a great job and we did a pretty terrible job.”
The game marked the first game for both teams at the home of the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers and it drew a crowd of 2,326. Fans who waited late to purchase tickets stood in a line well after the first pitch.
MGM Park drew positive reviews from all involved.
“Beautiful, fantastic,” Calvi said of the stadium. “They did a fantastic job. Anything we needed we got. They were just very accommodating. They want college teams here. We're looking forward to coming back to play Nicholls State (on March 30).”
A solo home run by Ben Gann in the second inning gave South Alabama the early 1-0 lead and the Jaguars tacked on three more runs in the third thanks to some clutch, well-placed hits.
Southern Miss actually out-hit South Alabama, 8-5, but the Jaguars were much more efficient at the plate with runners on.
USM didn't score until the seventh inning when Storme Cooper singled up the middle to bring home Chase Scott, who led off the inning with a double to deep left.
USM junior Dylan Burdeaux was hit by a pitch to start the eighth and Jake Sandlin followed with a single to left to put two men on with two out.
Lynch followed with an RBI single to right, bringing home Burdeaux to cut the USA lead to 4-2.
However, Sandlin made a crucial mistake on the play when he rounded second and headed for third, where he was thrown out by right fielder Travis Swaggerty.
“It was a base-running mistake,” USM coach Scott Berry said. “Honestly, I was reading Burdeaux. We had nobody out and Jake thought I was bringing him to third.”
The next three batters were retired by USA reliever Shane McKinley to end the USM rally.
McKinley threw two scoreless innings to pick up his second save of the season.
USM starting pitcher Hunter Stevens lasted 2 2/3 innings. He gave up four earned runs on four hits while striking out five and walking two.
Freshman right-hander Nick Sandlin was excellent in relief for the Golden Eagles, giving up one hit while striking out five and walking two in five scoreless innings.
Nick Sandlin gave his team a chance to rally late, but the Eagles never took advantage.
“That young man has done that since he stepped foot on campus,” Berry said. “He impressed us all in the fall and continues to impress us. The kid has a presence that's way ahead of his age.”
Lynch finished 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and Scott had a pair of hits with a run scored.
First baseman Danny Martinez was the lone USA batter with multiple hits, going 2-for-4.
Southern Miss (7-2) will play Michigan State at 2 p.m. on Friday in the first contest of a three-game tournament at Bayfront Stadium in Pensacola, Fla. USM will play Troy at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Auburn at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
South Alabama (8-1) hosts Middle Tennessee at 6:30 p.m. on Friday to start a three-game series at Stanky Field.