HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - USM Press Release
Kirk McCarty turned in another sparkling performance on the mound Southern Miss blasted four home runs in a 13-2 victory Saturday over UTSA.
With the win, the Golden Eagles (19-6, 5-1 Conference USA) swept the three-game conference set from the Roadrunners (10-13, 1-5), giving Southern Miss two straight C-USA series wins this season and five consecutive dating to 2015
"It's always big to sweep, especially at home," said junior right fielder Dylan Burdeaux, who posted the first, two-home run game of his career and tied other career marks with four runs batted in and three runs scored. "You've got to take care of these teams and get the sweep. It's big in the standings. Someone swept last week, so to get this sweep was huge for us."
Daniel Keating's two-run homer ended the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, shortened by Conference USA's 10-run rule on get-away day as Southern Miss scored in every inning but the second.
Red-shirt freshman designated hitter Hunter Slater mashed his own two-run home run and drove in a career-best three runs with a pair of hits as the Golden Eagles tied a season high with the four long balls.
"Right now, we're a tough team to pitch to, from top to bottom," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "I've had several opposing coaches tell us that. But that's a credit to our guys, a credit to our hitting coaches and the plans they have."
Along with their 12 hits, the Golden Eagles also took advantage of five walks and three hits batsmen to pile up more than ample support for McCarty (2-0).
The sophomore left-hander from Oak Grove allowed two runs on six hits, tying a career-high set a week earlier at Marshall with nine strikeouts and walking none for a second consecutive week.
"Kirk McCarty, once again, gave up two runs, but nine strikeouts and no walks in back-to-back games," Berry said. "That's 18 over zero in his last two starts, so it started there on the mound."
As McCarty was surrounded for his postgame interview, a voice was heard, "Kirk, thank the offense."
McCarty did just that, with a bit of deadpan thrown in for good measure.
"I'll thank the offense. Finally," McCarty said. "I've been messing with them all week. Every game I've thrown, I've come out of the game with two runs or less, and (Saturday), they scored 13, so not much to complain about (Saturday).
"They do their job, day in, day out, just sometimes not when I'm in there. They score later. But (Saturday), just a great day hitting the ball all the way around, playing defense. It was great to get the sweep."
The Roadrunners took 1-0 lead in their first at-bats on catcher Mason George's single to center, but Burdeaux tied it up by leading off the bottom of the inning with his sixth home run of the season, an estimated 410-foot fly over the wall in dead center.
"I was actually looking to bunt that first pitch, but he threw a ball, so I was in a hitter's count, and after that, I figured he was going to try and get back to a 1-1 count," Burdeaux said. "So, I went to back to being aggressive and trying to put a swing on it."
UTSA went up 2-1 in the second, when third baseman C.J. Pickering sent his first homer of the year just over the top of the wall in left-center field.
"I was a little surprised that one went out," McCarty said.
But the Golden Eagles broke on top with three runs in the bottom of the third off UTSA starter Karan Patel (1-4), who suffered his second pitching loss of the weekend after giving up the game-winning hits in relief Thursday in the bottom of the ninth.
Burdeaux led off the inning with a single to left and moved to third base when center fielder Jake Sandlin doubled to right. First baseman Tim Lynch's opposite-field single to left field gave Southern Miss a 3-2 lead, and designated hitter Hunter Slater followed an out later with a run-scoring single for a two-run lead.
Burdeaux made it 6-2 in the fourth with his seventh homer of the year, a two-out, two-run blast just to the left of the black wall in center field, and Slater followed the next inning with a two-run shot to right-center field to make it 8-2.
Sandlin added a run-scoring single in the sixth for a 9-2 lead, and pinch-hitter Tracy Hadley's single and Burdeaux's bases-loaded walk made it 11-2 in the seventh.
Keating, who had pinch-hit for left fielder Chase Scott in the seventh inning, then knocked his second home run of the season off the scoreboard in left-center with Michael Gilbert aboard to end the game.
Burdeaux had three hits and a walk in five plate appearances. Sandlin had a double and single, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest by a Golden Eagle this season.
Gilbert, who first entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter for Slater, walked and scored in both his plate appearances. Left fielder Taylor Braley also scored twice.
George had a double and single and shortstop Tyler Straub two singles for UTSA.
The Golden Eagles return to action Tuesday when they take on Mississippi State at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Game time is 6:30 p.m.