Southern Miss

C-USA Notebook: Taylor Braley displays ‘clutch gene’ for Southern Miss; Is FAU done?

Southern Miss pitcher Stevie Powers falls over Charlotte's Hunter Jones after tagging him at the plate Saturday at MGM Park in Biloxi. Jones was called out.
Southern Miss pitcher Stevie Powers falls over Charlotte's Hunter Jones after tagging him at the plate Saturday at MGM Park in Biloxi. Jones was called out.

A couple of Southern Miss players tied single-season program records in Saturday afternoon's 6-5 victory over Charlotte at MGM Park.

Junior Taylor Braley, who was the designated hitter, tied the school mark for most walks in a season with 57. He tied Doug Cronk from the 1988 campaign.

Sophomore outfielder Hunter Slater's two-run triple in the eighth was his seventh of the season, tying Kyle Logan from the 1994 season.

USM improved to 47-13 with the afternoon victory, tying the program's single-season mark for wins.

'Clutch gene'

Braley's two-run home run to win Saturday's game came as no surprise to his roommate, USM junior pitcher Hayden Roberts.

"I spend a lot time with that guy and he's got the clutch gene," Roberts said. "He's just good."

Braley pushed his season total of homers to 16, one off team-leader Matt Wallner.

The walk-off win was the seventh of the season for the Golden Eagles.

Game changer

Roberts put in one of his best performances of the season Saturday in 5 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.

He allowed two runs on three hits, striking out three and walking none.

"That's probably as good as I've felt all season," Roberts said.

Roberts was a weekend starter through the first half of the season, but has transitioned well to the relief role.

"Since going into the bullpen, I think (Roberts) has really figured it out there," USM coach Scott Berry said. "It was a really good, clean game for him. He had great control of two pitches. I thought his slider was outstanding."

Roberts potentially would have been the starter in Saturday's second game if not for Stevie Powers' struggles in the first two innings.

Senior right-hander Hunter Stevens was set to make the start in the second contest, his first of the season.

Check for results from Saturday night's 7:30 p.m. contest.

Southern Miss beat Charlotte 6-5 Saturday to stay alive in the C-USA tournament in Biloxi.

FAU done?

Rice ended Florida Atlantic's tournament, 13-2, in the first game of the day on Saturday, putting a major dent in FAU's postseason chances.

The Owls finished 35-21-1 and FAU coach John McCormack seemed pessimistic about the odds of his team reaching the NCAA Tournament field.

"We've got a slim chance," he said. "I think we're 50 (in RPI). This gets us to (54). We have some things on paper, but I thought if we win this game, I don't want to say we're in, but I'd say we had a pretty good shot.

"We finished 35-21 and third in a good league, but a lot of things would have to line up for us."

Old Dominion, C-USA's best chance at a second at-large bid, stood at No. 50 in RPI with a record of 37-21.

If necessary

Saturday night's game between USM and Charlotte was just the 14th "if necessary" game in C-USA baseball tournament history.

USM moved to 18-14 in elimination games during bracket play of the C-USA tournament dating back to the league's inception in 1996. Charlotte, meanwhile, is 1-5 in those contests.