BILOXI, MS (WDAM) - Listening to Matthew Guidry explain his approach before connecting on arguably the biggest hit of his career at the University of Southern Mississippi, the moment is made to sound almost routine.
In fact, the freshman second baseman's two-out, full-count fly ball over the netting in right-center field Thusrday afternoon was one of the primary reasons the Golden Eagles remain alive in the 2017 Conference USA Championship.
Guidry's three-run home run in the second inning gave Southern Miss a lead it never would lose and as the top-seeded Golden Eagles shook off Wednesday's first-round loss with a 5-2 victory over fifth-seeded Louisiana Tech University in an elimination game.
"We knew we had our backs against the wall losing (Wednesday) night, but it's kind of crazy, because you might think we put pressure on ourselves, but we really don't," Guidry said. "We just come out here every single day and try and be consistent, not try and do too much.
"We just kind of came out here and got the train rolling again."
Eleventh-ranked Southern Miss (45-13), which never has gone two games and out in a C-USA baseball tournament, move into a 6:30 p.m. Friday elimination game.
The Golden Eagles take on the loser of Thursday night's game between fourth-seeded University of Charlotte and eighth-seeded University of Texas-San Antonio.
The Bulldogs (36-20) were the second team eliminated from C-USA's eight-team postseason field, following seventh-seeded Florida International University's loss and exit earlier Thursday morning.
"They are one of the best teams in the country and they don't play back-to-back bad baseball games," Louisiana Tech coach Lane Burroughs said. "They're not going to do it very often, and that's why they're the best team in our league.
"We had opportunities. We had guys on base. The difference is, they got the big hit, and we didn't."
After seeing a 14-game winning streak snapped in a 9-2 loss to UTSA Wednesday, Southern Miss wasted little time getting back on track.
Third baseman Taylor Braley singled to lead off the second inning and catcher Bryant Bowen walked with two outs before Guidry sent a Matt Miller (1-2) pitch high over the outfield netting in right-center field.
"Bryant had had a good at-bat right before me, and I knew (Miller) definitely didn't want to walk (batters) back to back," Guidry said. "He'd been pounding the strike zone all day, so I knew it was probably going to be somewhere near the zone.
"He kind of left one out over the plate, and that was about it."
Southern Miss went up 4-0 in the third inning when first baseman Dylan Burdeaux walked and eventually came around to score on a bad relay throw on a potential double-play grounder.
The Bulldogs whittled the lead to 4-2 on solo home runs by designated hitter Cody Daigle (fourth of season) in the third inning and right fielder Marshall Boggs (ninth on season) in the fourth.
But McCarty (10-2) and closer Nick Sandlin, who pitched the final two innings to pick up his seventh save of the season, kept Louisiana Tech off scoreboard for the final five innings, Southern Miss added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning on a run-scoring single to right field by catcher Cole Donaldson.
McCarty scattered nine hits over seven innings, allowing two run. He struck out six and walked none. Sandlin allowed one hit and a walk while striking out four.
"I told someone there in the dugout (Thursday) that I love when he's on the mound, every single time," Burdeaux said of McCarty. "I love the way he competes.
"He gets in some sticky situations, as most pitchers do, but he gets out of them most of the time, and you love playing behind that. He's a grinder, man. He's a competitor, and on top of that, he's got good stuff. So, he's tough to beat."