HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - USM Press Release
For the past six baseball games, University of Southern Mississippi pitching had been stellar.That trend continued Saturday night at Taylor Park.
Starter Cord Cockrell allowed two runs on three hits over seven innings and the Golden Eagles blew the game open late as they downed Samford University 8-2.
"I just kind of hit my spots and everything just felt good," said Cockrell, who turned in his third, seven-inning outing of the season. "What was different about (Saturday) was I threw a lot more fastballs, four-seam fastballs, outside (Saturday). I think it kind of caught them off guard when I started doing that."
Right fielder Dylan Burdeaux and first baseman Tim Lynch each homered as the Golden Eagles (12-3) took the opening game in their final, non-conference weekend series of the season.
Only two Southern Miss teams have had better starts to the season: 1995 (14-1) and 2004 (13-2).
Weather had pushed the first game from Friday to Saturday, and the teams are scheduled to wrap the three-game set with a Sunday doubleheader. Both games are slated for nine innings, with the first beginning at 1 p.m.
In its previous six outings, Southern Miss pitching had posted a 1.83 earned run average, while averaging 9.8 strikeouts and 2.8 walks in those games.
Saturday against Samford (8-6), Cockrell and relievers Cody Livingston and Clay Tageant combined to allow just four hits, while walking two and striking out three against a team that came in hitting .319 and averaging 8.7 runs a game.
Cockrell (3-0), who walked his first batter of the season, threw 84 pitches, 59 for strikes. He struck out two and got 14 groundball outs.
"He's not a guy who's going to overpower you, he's going to make you put it in play," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "He's going to change speeds. He's going to change angles. He's very frustrating for a hitter because he usually doesn't throw the same pitch twice.
"He can throw any pitch in any count. He doesn't walk hitters, though he walked one (Saturday), his first on the year, but he's a strike-throwing machine and keeps his defense in it, and from an offensive standpoint, sometimes those guys are very frustrated."
Southern Miss took a 2-0 lead in the second inning off Samford starter Jared Brasher (1-3), when second baseman Storme Cooper walked and scored on shortstop Nick Dawson's hit-and-run double to left field. Dawson eventually came around to score on a pair of wild pitches.
The Bulldogs tied the game when third baseman Hunter Swilling walked to lead off the fourth inning and right fielder Heath Quinn smashed Cockrell's next pitch over the left-field wall.
But the Golden Eagles immediately struck back in the exact same fashion, with Dawson drawing a leadoff walk and right fielder Dylan Burdeaux following with his second homer of the year.
"It was first pitch and I was just sitting fastball and he left one over the plate," said Burdeaux, who logged his fourth, three-hit game of the season. "It was a big momentum swing, because they had just had that two-run swing in the top half. It felt good to get us back on top and get us going a little bit."
Southern tacked on four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on center fielder Jake Sandlin's RBI-single and Lynch's fourth homer of the season, a three-run, first-pitch shot to right-center.
For the evening, Dawson scored three times for the Golden Eagles, while Burdeaux scored twice. Sandlin and Lynch each had two hits.