Southern Miss hasn’t had a lot of success against Mississippi State lately.
That changed on Tuesday night.
Behind two big innings and the pitching of Taylor Braley the Golden Eagles held off a late Mississippi State rally to earn a 7-5 win over the in-state rival. USM extended its winning streak to eight games at Trustmark Park in front of an announced crowd of 5,198.
Southern Miss (17-4) has now won just two times over Mississippi State in the last seven meetings. The Golden Eagle eight-game winning streak is the longest stretch since Southern Miss ended the 2015 on a 13-game winning streak.
“It feels good to get this one,” said Braley, USM’s starting pitcher. “We won some games this year where we don’t play our best. We play good to start the game and then slack off at the end.”
All of the Golden Eagles’ runs came in the first and third innings.
Braley also had a RBI-double to deep center to give Southern Miss a 1-0 lead.
After the Golden Eagles added their second run on a fielders choice, catcher Cole Donaldson drove a two-strike fastball to right field for a two-run single that gave Southern Miss a 4-0 lead.
“Early on I thought we took some great swings and had some competitive at-bats,” eighth-year Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “Had some good two-strike hitting and a big two-out hit by Cole Donaldson.”
Braley (2-0) got the win on the mound lasting seven innings. He scattered nine hits, giving up five earned runs. He also struck out four.
“He just filled up the strike zone and he didn’t give up any walks and that’s big,” Berry said. “His ability to pound the zone and let the defense play behind works in out favor.”
Denver McQuary (0-1) took the loss on the mound for a struggling Mississippi State squad that has now lost four in a row.
Biloxi’s Cody Brown, Tanner Poole and Josh Lovelady all had two hits each for the Bulldogs (12-10). Lovelady had a RBI single in the MSU three-run eighth inning to cut the USM lead to 7-5.
“Proud of the guys for fighting, but we need to find ways to win close games,” MSU coach Andy Cannizaro said. “We are a young team and we playing these same close ball games. Some point we need to win these type of games.”
USM freshman Matt Wallner pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his second save of the season.