HATTIESBURG Some 18 hours after struggling to generate much offense against Columbia Tuesday night, Southern Miss broke out the bats Wednesday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park.
Second baseman Casey Maack drove in four runs, three on his third home run of the season, as the Golden Eagles knocked off the Lions 20-5 to sweep the two-game, midweek set.
“Two different games on two different days,” USM coach Scott Berry said. “But those who have been around baseball and know baseball, that happens. But it was good to see our team come back and put up good numbers (Wednesday).”
USM (13-4) won its fourth consecutive game by scoring a season-high 20 runs and tying a season high with 18 hits. Maack, first baseman Dylan Burdeaux and center fielder Daniel Keating each had three hits while Burdeaux and late-inning substitute infielder Matt Guidry each drove in three runs.
Five Golden Eagles scored three runs: Maack; Keating; designated hitter Matt Wallner; third baseman Tracy Hadley; and right fielder Mason Irby.
“Just the way the team’s been playing, we’ve had a good, first part of the season,” said Maack, who made his seventh start of the season Wednesday and has three home runs in his last three games. “Now, we’re running into another stretch, opening (Conference USA play) against a tough Louisiana Tech, so we want to carry this momentum forward and keep it going.”
Columbia (0-9) also contributed to its own demise, committing seven errors just one day after dazzling on defense with six double plays. Lions’ pitching also walked eight batters and hit two more.
USM freshman Cody Carroll made his fourth start of the season Wednesday, and for the third time, failed to get out of the third inning.
Columbia scored twice with two outs in the first inning before Southern Miss answered with four in the bottom of the inning.
But the Lions finished Carroll in the second with another two-out run and tied the game in the top of the third inning on sacrifice fly by designated hitter Chandler Bengtson.
But the Golden Eagles added a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the inning for a 6-4 lead. USM batted around for the first of the three times in the fourth inning, scoring six runs to blow open the ballgame.
“The bottom of third inning was key for us,” Berry said. “But with two outs, (Tracy Hadley and Mason Irby) got us going, and we scored twice, from there, it seemed like the momentum really took off.”
Freshman Alex Nelms (1-0), the third of six USM pitchers, picked up the first victory of his collegiate career by allowing one run on one hit in three innings, striking out four while walking one.