So much for those worried about a letdown after the University of Southern Mississippi clinched the Conference USA regular-season baseball championship last weekend.
The 15th-ranked Golden Eagles capped a 4-0 week that extended their winning streak to a program-record 14 games, including a doubleheader sweep Friday of the University of Texas-San Antonio at Roadrunner Field.
Southern Miss swept their sixth conference series of the season and their last four by overpowering UTSA by a combined 30-10 on a day that featured nine home runs and 33 hits by the Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss blasted a season-high-tying five home runs and scored 10 runs in the final two innings to cinch a 15-1 victory in the first game.
Kirk McCarty (9-2) allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, while Bryant Bowen hit a pair of two-run home runs and Matt Wallner, Taylor Braley and Dylan Burdeaux each hit solo shots.
The Golden Eagles hit four more homers in the second game, including three in a nine-run seventh inning that saw 14 batters come to the plate, as Southern Miss ran over the Roadrunners 15-9 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Burdeaux, who went 5 of 6 in the second game, hit a solo homer in the fifth inning for his second of the day and 11th of the season. In the seventh inning, Braley hit a grand slam for his 14th homer of the year, and Wallner and Matthew Guidry each hit solo homers. For Wallner, it was his team-best 17th of the year, while Guidry hit his fourth.
Southern Miss (44-12, 25-5) enters next week’s C-USA baseball tournament as the top seed after sweeping all five of their C-USA road series and winning nine of 10 conference series overall. Southern Miss tied the league record of 25 wins set by East Carolina University in 2004.
The Golden Eagles finished with the most regular-season wins in program history and, counting postseason play, the third most by a Southern Miss team, trailing only the squads from 2004 (45 wins) and 2003 (47 wins).
For a second consecutive day, the Golden Eagles used the late innings as springboards to pull away to wins.
Thursday, USM scored eight runs over the final two innings (three in the eighth, five in the ninth) in a 9-3 victory.
In Friday’s first game, the Golden Eagles scored three runs in the eighth and tacked on seven runs in the ninth.
Southern Miss went up 1-0 when Burdeaux led off the game against UTSA starter Noah Trabanino (6-6) with his 10th home run of the season. Bowen made it 3-0 in the second inning, when he followed a triple by Hunter Slater with his fourth homer of the season.
Tracy Hadley’s RBI-double in the third inning put the Golden Eagles up 4-0, and Braley connected for his 13th home run of the season to lead off the fifth inning for a 5-0 lead.
Wallner led off the eighth inning with his 16th home run of the season, and following a Slater walk, Bowen blasted his fifth homer of the year for an 8-0 lead.
The ninth inning featured three walks, a hit batsman and a couple wild pitches that helped USM cause, but the Golden Eagles also got a two-run double from Burdeaux, a run-scoring double from Mason Irby and a RBI-single from Hadley.
McCarty, who walked two and struck out six, gave way to Hayden Roberts to start the seventh inning.
Roberts, who allowed five hits and a walk while striking out five, gave up a double to C.J. Pickering in the seventh inning, who came around to score the lone run for the Roadrunners (28-26, 15-15) on Aldo Buendia’s single.
Roberts picked up his first save of the season, tacking on two scoreless innings to close out the game.
Trabanino allowed seven runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out four.
USM banged out 14 hits, with Burdeaux and Braley collecting three hits apiece, and Bowen and Hadley two each. Bowen drove in four runs, Burdeaux three and Hadley two, while Slater scored three times.
In the second game, Wallner had an RBI single and Gudiry forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk for 2-0 lead in the first, but UTSA went up 3-2 off USM starter Cody Carroll on an RBI-double by Bryan Arias, a bases-loaded walk and a fielder’s choice groundout.
Carroll did not make it through the first inning.
Southern Miss tied the game in the second inning on a double steal that allowed Burdeaux to score, and a two-run single by Guidry in the fourth inning gave the Golden Eagles a 5-3 lead.
Burdeaux’ homer in the fifth made it 6-3, but a two-run homer by Jesse Baker in the bottom of the inning got UTSA back within a run.
But then came the seventh, when Slater walked with the bases loaded to force in a run and Braley followed his blast to left field.
Wallner and Guidry followed with solo homers, and Burdeaux and Irby capped the nine-run onslaught with run-scoring singles.
The Roadrunners scored twice in each of the seventh and eighth innings to cut the lead, but Jake Davis tossed a scoreless ninth to close out the game.
Guidry finished with three hits and four RBI as the Golden Eagles collected 19 hits.