The Southern Miss baseball team will have to rely on a Fayetteville, Arkansas, native to keep the team alive in the Fayetteville Regional.
Arkansas thumped USM 10-2 Saturday night before a crowd of 10,213 in Fayetteville to send the Golden Eagles into an elimination contest against Dallas Baptist at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The winner of that game will advance to face Arkansas at 7 p.m. on Sunday night.
Arkansas, which improves to 41-18, is sitting in a great position. Whichever team comes out of Sunday's elimination game will have to beat the Razorbacks twice at Baum Stadium to win the regional.
USM will go with junior right-hander Walker Powell, a product of Fayetteville High School, against Dallas Baptist. He will look to quiet a DBU lineup that came to life with 18 hits an 18-9 victory to eliminate Oral Roberts in the early game on Saturday in Fayetteville.
On Friday night, Nick Sandlin led the way as USM shut down DBU 9-0 in the regional opener for the Golden Eagles.
Powell is 7-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 15 games this season. He has 58 strikeouts and 14 walks in 79 innings.
The 6-foot-7 redshirt sophomore was part of a Fayetteville High School team that twice played for high school state championships at the Razorbacks' Baum Stadium. FHS won the state title during Powell's sophomore year in 2013 and finished as the state runner-up the next season.
DBU will counter with redshirt freshman right-hander Luke Eldred, who is 6-3 with a 3.08 ERA in 13 appearances (11 starts) this season. He has 36 strikeouts and just two walks in 49 2/3 innings.
Arkansas appears likely to go with redshirt sophomore Isaiah Campbell in the late game on Sunday. The right-hander is 4-6 with a 4.01 ERA in 14 appearances (13) starts this season.
USM, which is loaded with strong left-handed bats, typically fares better against right-handed pitching.
USM starting pitcher Stevie Powers didn't have his best stuff against a potent Arkansas lineup Saturday night. He lasted only 1 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs — all in the second inning — on five hits.
Powers entered the game with only 10 walks issued in 71 1/3 innings, but ended up walking three before he was replaced by Mason Strickland with two out in the second inning. Powers dropped to 5-2 with the loss.
Arkansas had a pair of two-run home runs in the second inning. The first came with one out from senior Jared Gates and the second took place two batters later with junior Eric Cole clearing the fence.
While Powers struggled, Arkansas received a stellar performance from its left-handed starter, Kacey Murphy. He gave up gave no runs on two hits in eight innings, striking out five and walking one. Saturday's outing was the longest of Murphy's career as he improved to 8-4.
USM's first hit of the game didn't come until Gulfport product Daniel Keating came up with a single with one out in the fifth inning.
Matt Guidry had a solo homer and Matt Wallner hit an RBI double in the ninth to help USM (44-17) avoid the shutout.