RUSTON, La. Dylan Burdeaux drove in three runs, while Kirk McCarty and Matt Wallner shut down the league’s top offensive club in leading Southern Miss to a 5-2 Conference USA season-opening victory over Louisiana Tech Friday night at J.C. Love Field.
The Golden Eagles won for the fifth time to improve to 14-4, while LA Tech fell to 15-3 on the year.
Burdeaux, who grew up just 30 miles from Ruston in West Monroe, put the Golden Eagles up early 2-0 with a two-run single to centerfield in the second, plating Casey Maack and Bryant Bowen, who each singled to reach base.
The Bulldogs, though, rallied for single runs in the second and third innings, before McCarty (3-2) shut them down.
After giving up back-to-back singles to start the fourth, McCarty struck out the side and went on to retire nine of the final 10 batters he faced, including seven of his eight strikeouts over that span. The junior from Hattiesburg allowed both runs on seven hits with just one walk and a hit batter over six innings.
The Golden Eagles gave McCarty the lead in the sixth with their final runs of the game.
After a deep flyout by Taylor Braley to leftfield to open the frame, the Golden Eagles received infield singles by Daniel Keating and Maack, while Wallner walked in between the hits to load the bases.
That sent LA Tech starter Kent Hasler from the game and Bowen, who notched two hits, then hit a flair over the first baseman’s head to give the Golden Eagles their go-ahead run. LeeMarcus Boyd followed with an RBI walk, before Burdeaux lined out to center for a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
Southern Miss then turned the game over to Wallner, who after walking the first hitter, retired the final nine batters he faced to earn his first save.
Hasler (3-1) gave up five runs on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts to suffer the loss.