Baseball Wins MT Series with Saturday Twinbill Sweep
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Matt Durst homered in the first game and Connor Barron drove in the tying run and scored the winning tally in the nightcap as Southern Miss swept Middle Tennessee 7-0 and 7-6 in a doubleheader here Saturday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
The Golden Eagles (19-14 overall, 8-4 C-USA) won their fourth C-USA series to start league play, taking two of three games in the series. It was the first doubleheader sweep for the Golden Eagles since beating UAB twice in a day on April 27, 2013. The series was completed on Saturday after school officials decided to move up the final game from Sunday afternoon because of expected bad weather.
"I can't be more proud of our club and the way our guys came out today," said Southern Miss coach Scott Berry. "It is hard to win a doubleheader in Division I baseball and it's so easy to get content after winning the first game."
Conor Fisk limited the Blue Raiders (14-17, 8-7) to just five hits and four walks over seven innings with 11 strikeouts in the opener, as the right-hander worked out of a pair of bases loaded jams in the third and sixth innings. Fisk improved to 3-1 with his strong outing.
Sophomore Nick Dawson, who had two of the team's seven hits, put the Golden Eagles on the board first with a two-run double in the second and the home squad extended the lead in the fourth as Dylan Burdeaux and Austin Roussel scored off a Michael Gilbert sacrifice bunt that was thrown wildly at first base.
Durst then ended the scoring for Southern Miss in the eighth on a three-run homer, his team-leading fourth, to right-centerfield.
Blue Raider starter Paul Mittura (1-2) gave up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits over seven innings with three walks and two strikeouts to suffer the loss.
In the nightcap, Southern Miss found themselves behind 6-5 in the sixth. With one out, Austin Roussel walked for the third time in the game and fifth time in the twinbill. After a groundout, Barron then came to the plate for the first time after entering the game in the top half of the frame for defense. Barron singled to center to drive in Roussel and then stole second before advancing on a pair of wild pitches - the second one allowing him to come in on what proved to be the game-winning run.
After originally falling behind 2-0 in the opening frame, Durst knocked in a pair of Golden Eagle runs with a single in the bottom part of the stanza to tie the score.
MT then went ahead again on a passed ball in the second, but the Eagles retook the lead again in the bottom of the inning with three runs of their own. Michael Sterling knocked in the first run with a groundout, before Tim Lynch collected a pair of RBI with a single up the middle.
The Blue Raiders re-tied the score at 5-5 in the fourth on a Ryan Stephens RBI groundout and a run-scoring wild pitch, before Stephens gave the visitors their last lead with a run-scoring double in the sixth.
Jake Winston entered in relief of USM starter Cameron Giannini in the fourth and gave up just one run on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts over four innings to get the victory and improve to 3-1. Matt Blackham, the second of three Blue Raider pitchers, got tagged with the loss after surrendering two runs on three hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. He fell to 0-2 on the season.
The Golden Eagles return to action Tuesday, April 8, when they travel to Pearl to face in-state rival Mississippi State at Trustmark Park. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m., and Southern Miss is the designated visiting team.