Taylor Braley turned in a third, consecutive quality mid-week pitching start as the 23rd-ranked Southern Miss downed the South Alabama 4-2 on Tuesday night at Pete Taylor Park.
Matt Wallner came up in the clutch as well at the plate and on the mound for the Golden Eagles (20-5), who won for the 11th time in their last 12 games.
“It was just a good, clean, well-played ballgame,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said.
Braley (3-0) allowed two runs on five hits through 6 1/3 innings, walking one while striking out seven as the Jaguars (15-10) saw a six-game winning streak snapped.
Braley’s effort came on the heels of solid starts at the University of New Orleans and against Mississippi State University in Pearl.
“He’s a competitor, and he just continues to get better and better each week with his command and location,” Berry said. “That change-up is really making a difference in what he’s able to do. It’s making that fastball all the better and then he’s got that breaking ball that can take you out, too.
“He’s a pleasure to have in the midweek, I can tell you that.”
Southern Miss went up 2-0 in the third inning after Wallner battled Jaguars starting left-hander Andy Arguelles (2-1) through seven pitches before lining the eighth for a two-out, bases-loaded single into right-center field, scoring Dylan Burdeaux and Daniel Keating.
“He was a three-pitch guy, so I just had to stick with what we call ‘lefty approach,’ and just stay on all pitches,” said Wallner, who hits left-handed but throws from the right side. “I think the last one was a change up and I just stayed through it and was able to get a hit there.”
Cole Donaldson made it 3-0 with his first home run as a Golden Eagle, taking Arguelles over the fence in left-center field with one out in the sixth inning.
The Jaguars knocked out Braley with one out in the seventh after he allowed two baserunners on a walk and seeing-eye single.
Nick Sandlin entered and walked pinch-hitter Carter Perkins to load the bases. Another pinch-hitter, Paul Russo, put a 1-2 Sandlin pitch against the wall in center field, scoring two and cutting the Southern Miss lead to 3-2.
Sandlin got Jaguars’ leadoff man Drew LaBounty on a nubber in front of the plate for the second out and then was lifted in favor of left-hander Stevie Powers, who got Brendan Donovan to ground out on a 3-2 count to end the inning.
Hunter Slater gave Southern Miss a bit more breathing room in the seventh inning when he pinch-hit and tripled off the wall in center and then scored on a wild pitch for a two-run Golden Eagles’ lead.
Powers worked around a leadoff single in the eighth, and then handed off to Wallner, who pitched a perfect ninth to log his third save of the season.
“I was just happy to get out there, throw mostly strikes,” Wallner said. “I was just happy to be out there, and we go the win, so that was the way to go.”