After putting four pitchers on the mound against Purdue Friday night, Southern Miss only needed a pair to pick up the victory on Saturday.
USM (2-0) spotted Purdue a pair of early runs before starting pitcher Stevie Powers and reliever Cody Carroll combined to lock down the Boilermakers to finish off a 4-2 victory and give the Golden Eagles the series victory at Pete Taylor Park.
Powers retired the final 11 batters he faced and Carroll put down eight of the nine men he went up against. Neither pitcher walked a batter.
Powers (1-0) lasted 6 innings, giving up one earned run on two hits.
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Carroll struck out one and allowed one hit in three innings to earn the save.
Carroll’s fastball showed nice pop, consistently hitting in the low 90’s.
“I just tried to let my fastball do a lot of work,” he said. “Last year, I was a little consumed with strikeouts. We have a great defense and I was fortunate to get a lot of ground balls.”
Berry was encouraged by what he saw out of Carroll, who has had an up and down career in Hattiesburg up to this point.
“He’s a young man that’s been developing since he got here as a freshman,” USM coach Scott Berry said. “What you saw tonight is where we hoped he would be and get to. I was very proud of how he came out and attacked the zone with all pitches. His mound presence was very poised. I had no problem sending him out there for that ninth inning to close that thing out.”
A crowd of 4,078 showed up for Saturday’s contest, the largest since 4,383 were on hand on May 12 of last year for a contest against Louisiana Tech.
USM got all the scoring it would need in the sixth when Hunter Slater, Matt Wallner and Brant Blaylock each singled to begin the inning.
Blaylock’s hit through the left side of the infield brought home the first run of the game. Cole Donaldson then lifted a fly ball to right to allow Blaylock and Wallner to move up to second and third, and Wallner scored on a throwing error by right fielder Johnny Sage.
Storme Cooper capped off the scoring in the inning when he singled to right, bringing home Blaylock and giving USM its first lead of the game at 3-2.
Blaylock, who began his college career at Mississippi State, made an impact at the plate for the second consecutive day after hitting a solo homer on Friday night.
“I didn’t play as good as I wanted to in the fall intrasquads, but I did a lot of work over the Christmas break to get my swing right and get back where I was,” said Blaylock, who played in right and hit fifth behind Wallner. “To work so hard for something and have it pay off like that in that spot is really big.”
Slater had the most productive night at the plate for USM, going 3-for-4.
Purdue starting pitcher Ryan Beard took the loss, giving up two earned runs on nine hits. He struck out one and walked one.
Senior right-hander Jarod Wright will be USM’s starting pitcher in Sunday’s game, which has been moved up to 10:30 a.m. due to the threat of rain in the afternoon.
“He’s a young man that can mix pitches,” Berry said. “He’s highly confident. We need to figure it out and throw somebody out there and see how he does. We have confidence in him going out there or we would not put him out there.”
Wright was 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 18 appearances last season, making three starts. He struck out 18 and walked nine.
Purdue will counter with right-hander Andrew Bohm.