Baseball Clinches Series with 7-4 Win over Mississippi State Saturday
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Jaylon Keys and Luke Reynolds homered to help Southern Miss build an early lead, and the 21st-ranked Golden Eagles downed No. 23 Mississippi State 7-4 Saturday at Pete Taylor Park.
With Saturday’s victory, the Golden Eagles clinched the season-opening series dubbed the “Mississippi Farm Bureau Classic” and will go for a sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Southern Miss (2-0) built a 5-0 lead after two innings against MSU starting left-hander Ethan Small, scoring three runs in the first before Keys and Reynolds followed with mammoth solo shots just a batter apart in the second.
State (0-2) scored its first runs of the series in the top of the third when MSU freshman first baseman Josh Hatcher hit a two-run home run off Southern Miss starter Stevie Powers.
But those were the only runs Powers allowed, and Southern Miss tacked on two more scores in the sixth to pad its lead and offset the single runs the Bulldogs scored in the eighth and ninth innings.
For a second consecutive day, Pete Taylor Park drew one of the top 10 crowds in its history as 4,988 came through the gates to watch the two, nationally-ranked intrastate rivals square off again.
The seventh-largest crowd since The Pete opened watched as the Golden Eagles got to one of State’s highly-regarded left-handers early for a second consecutive day.
Small (0-1), perhaps, deserved a better fate in the first inning.
Hunter Slater then hit a crisp grounder that bounced off the chest of Hunter Stovall, who recovered to get Slater at first. But instead of a potential, inning-ending double play, the fielder’s choice drove in Irby with the game’s first run.
Bryant Bowen followed with a first-pitch, two-run single to left field and USM led 3-0.
With one out in the second, Keys hit a solo shot over the billboard behind the left-field, and one out later, Reynolds hit his own over the right-center field wall for a 5-0 lead.
Powers, who struck out Hunter Vansau to get out of two-on, two-out jam in the top of the first, allowed a bloop double to Mangum before Hatcher cranked the first home run of his collegiate career over the right-field wall.
But Powers bounced back set the Bulldogs in order, and then got a double-play grounder to get out of a fourth-inning jam.
Powers, who allowed two runs on seven hits, was lifted after allowing a one-out single in the fifth, but Jarod Wright came in and got an inning-ending double play to end the threat.
Wright (1-0) picked up his first career win, allowing a run on four hits over 3 2/3 innings.
Southern Miss added two runs in the sixth inning off MSU reliever Denver McQuary on Gabe Montenegro’s RBI-triple and Irby’s fielder’s choice .
MSU added single runs in the last two innings.
Hatcher collected three hits for a second consecutive day. Vansau and Allen had two hits apiece.
Wallner matched his career-high with three hits Saturday, while Reynolds added two more hits and scored two more runs.