HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The dramatic is becoming the norm at Taylor Park this season for the University of Southern Mississippi.
Shortstop LeeMarcus Boyd's first career home run as a Golden Eagle provided Southern Miss' fourth walk-off victory of the year as USM downed Marshall University 5-3 in 11 innings Friday evening in the first game of a Conference USA doubleheader.
Boyd, who hit a walk-off single in a March 14 victory over Columbia University, reached out to lash an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall to give the No. 25 Golden Eagles (18-4, 4-0 C-USA) their ninth consecutive victory.
All five of USM's runs came via home run, including two solo shots by center fielder Matt Wallner and a solo homer by designated hitter Daniel Keating.
Marshall (10-9, 2-2), which twice lost one-run leads, has not won in Hattiesburg since 2009.
Nick Sandlin (5-0) picked up the win with a season-long 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed just one hit, while walking two and striking out a career-high seven.
He worked out of jam in the eighth inning when the Thundering Herd loaded the bases with one out on a walk, error and single. Sandlin caught pinch hitter Andrew Zban looking at strike three and then got right fielder Cory Garrastazu to foul out to end the threat.
USM loaded the bases in both the eighth and ninth innings, but could not score.
Reliever Matt Reed faced one batter in the eighth and got an inning-ending double play, then worked around Dylan Burdeaux's single and two walks in the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 11th inning, Sandlin got two strikeouts and then after a walk to Garrastazu, picked him off to end the inning.
Reed (3-2) walked USM right fielder Mason Irby on five pitches to open the bottom of the inning, and then after Boyd dropped two bunt attempts foul, could only turn and watch as Boyd's drive easily cleared the wall in left.
Of USM's four walk-off wins, Boyd has two, game-winning hits, while second baseman Storme Cooper has accounted for the other two with a game-winning single against Northeastern University on Feb. 19 and a bases-loaded walk against Tulane on March 1.
Both the Golden Eagles and the Herd got solid outings from their starting pitchers.
USM left-hander Kirk McCarty, who retired the first 10 batters he faced, allowed three runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He did not walk a batter, while striking out five.
Marshall left-hander Joshua Shapiro also allowed three runs on eight hits over seven innings. He walked one, while striking out six.
The Golden Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Keating's second home run of the season, but Sam Finfer's two-run homer in the fourth inning gave the Herd a 2-1 lead.
Wallner tied the game when he led off the bottom of the fourth inning with his fifth home run of the season.
Marshall went back ahead 3-2 in the sixth inning on Shane Hanon's two-out, run-scoring single, but Wallner tied the game again with a one-out, moonshot over the center-field wall in the bottom of the sixth.
Wallner, Irby, Keating and second baseman Casey Maack each had two of the Golden Eagles' 11 hits. Southern Miss has had 10 hits or more in every conference game this season.
Finfer, Hanon and Garrastazu each had two hits for Marshall.
Southern Miss and Marshall were set to play the second game of Friday night doubleheader. The teams were scheduled to play single games on the weekend, but the potential for inclement weather forecast for Saturday rearranged the schedule.
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