Back-to-back home runs by Dylan Burdeaux and Daniel Keating to open the bottom of the first inning set the tone for Southern Miss’ 13-3 Conference USA baseball victory over Marshall on Sunday.
The Golden Eagles scored three runs in the first inning and four in the fourth in winning their second game of the three-game series that ended Sunday. They also tacked on four more runs in the eighth inning to mercifully end the game on C-USA’s 10-run Sunday rule.
Southern Miss improved to 19-5 overall and 5-1 in Conference USA. Marshall fell to 11-10 and 3-3.
The three-run first inning — Taylor Braley walked and later scored on a passed ball for the third run of the inning — got things headed in the right direction for the home team.
“It sets the tone that we’re firing on all cylinders,” said Keating, a former Gulfport High School star.
Hayden Roberts (3-1) picked up the win on the mound. The junior pitcher fared well against the Thundering Herd except for center fielder Shane Hanon, who belted two home runs in the game.
“I was really, really proud of Hayden Roberts,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “He pitched with his least best stuff of the year. It’s easy to come out and be successful when you’ve got your best stuff. The sign of a good one is when you don’t, you’re able to go out there and compete. That’s what he did.
“Marshall is a good offensive club. They had double-digit hits in the prior two games and he limits them to five hits over 7 1/3 innings.”
Roberts, who set down the first batters he face with ease, seemingly got stronger as the game went on. He struck out the side in the seventh inning and had five of his seven total strikeouts in the sixth and seventh innings.
“He made a statement in the seventh inning,” Berry said. “He came out and struck out the side. That really drove the nail in them.”
Stevie Powers came to the mound with no out in the eighth inning wrapped up the game for Southern Miss.
Southern Miss finished with 15 hits on Sunday.
Storme Cooper and Mason Irby each had three hits and three RBIs. Irby’s bases-loaded double down the left-field line in the fourth inning drove in three runs.
“What a backbreaker,” Berry exclaimed.
Burdeaux, Matt Wallner and Cole Donaldson each had two hits. Keating also scored another time after getting hit by a pitch.
The Golden Eagles also took advantage of eight walks off seven Marshall pitchers.
Although the Eagles did not homer after the first inning, home runs were a vital part of the entire series, as Southern Miss wound up with eight for the three-game set.
“Obviously, it excites the offense,” said Keating, who also homered on Friday and now has three round-trippers this season. “This weekend we had a great atmosphere to list some balls because the wind was blowing out. I think I was taking good approaches and putting good swings on balls and they were carrying.”
Keating batted second in the order, up three spots from his usual No. 5 spot.
“You know, I like it,” he said. “You get more (at-bats) and you get a chance to make a statement early, like we did in that first inning.”
Southern Miss will host South Alabama at 6 p.m. Tuesday and New Orleans at 6 p.m. Wednesday.