HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For the better part of four innings, the University of Southern Mississippi had a dickens of a time trying to counteract the pitching patterns University of Evansville right-hander Justin Hayden was using so effectively against them.
Then came the fifth inning, when the Golden Eagles cracked the code and broke through against the Purple Aces.
USM collected season-highs in both hits and runs in routing Evansville 18-2 Sunday afternoon at Taylor Park.
In sweeping the three-game series, the Golden Eagles (6-1) scored 41 runs, their most productive home series since March 25-27, 2011, when they scored 43 runs in three games against Tulane University.
"We had a good weekend going into (Sunday)," USM coach Scott Berry said. "We had won the series. But that's like getting a 'B' in your class.
"We wanted to have a great weekend. We wanted to get an 'A' in that class and we were able to do that (Sunday)."
USM broke open a 1-1 game with five, consecutive, one-out singles, knocking Hayden (1-1) from the game and taking a 4-1 lead on run-scoring singles by left fielder Hunter Slater, third baseman Taylor Braley and center fielder Casey Maack.
"He was throwing backwards almost, starting with (off-speed pitches) down in the zone before coming with the fastball, and we had to adjust," said Maack, who wound up with four RBIs and two runs on three hits in his first start as a Golden Eagle.
"He was tough to beat in the first couple innings, but we changed our approach and finally started beating him."
Once USM got into the Evansville bullpen the offense geared up.
Designated hitter Matt Wallner greeted reliever Brandon Gomer with sixth, one-out single of the fifth inning to make the score 5-1. Second baseman Tracy Hadley drove in another run with a groundout, and catcher Cole Donaldson followed with a run-scoring single to give the Golden Eagles a 7-1 lead after five innings.
The floodgates broke open in the sixth inning, with USM sending 15 batters to the plate. The Golden Eagles scored 11 runs as the Purple Aces (1-6) paraded four pitchers to the mound, allowing eight hits, three walks and a hit batsman.
Dylan Burdeaux cracked his fourth home run of the season to lead off the sixth inning, a shot that cleared the scoreboard in left-center field.
Maack had a pair of hits in the inning, including the team's first triple of the season, driving in three runs. Burdeaux, Slater and right fielder Mason Irby each scored two runs in the onslaught.
It was the Golden Eagles' largest, single inning since scoring 11 times against the University of South Alabama in the 2016 NCAA Regional in Tallahassee, Fla.
"Tip your hat to the guy they had on the mound," Berry said. "He had pretty good stuff. It wasn't overpowering stuff, but he mixed it. He had a slider, and a fastball that really ran, and then a changeup that made that fastball look even better.
"We finally figured him out."
Freshman right-hander Cody Carroll fared much better in his second career start, after leaving in the third inning against Northeastern having surrendered seven runs.
Sunday, he allowed just one run on six hits. He walked no one and struck out four.
"I tried to go back to what I was used to, pound the ball low in the zone and let my defense work for me," Carroll said. "I commanded the (strike) zone a lot better than I did last weekend."
Left-hander Stevie Powers relieved Carroll with two outs and men on first and second base in a 1-1 game. Powers (2-0) got Evansville second baseman Trey Hair to ground out for the third out, and then became the winning pitcher when the Golden Eagles posted 17 runs over the next two innings.
Both of the Purple Aces' run came on solo homers. Hair took Carroll deep to left field in the first inning and right fielder Korbin Williams greeted reliever J.C. Keys with a home run to lead off the seventh inning.
USM will welcome Tulane at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Taylor Park.