First baseman Hunter Slater collected three hits and drove in two runs as No. 15 University of Southern Mississippi rallied from three runs down to top Eastern Michigan University 9-4 Friday in the opening round of the Cox Diamond Invitational.
USM (7-2) got six solid innings from starting left-hander Stevie Powers (2-0), who allowed three runs on seven hits at Blue Wahoos Stadium. He walked only one and logged a career-high eight strikeouts.
Eastern Michigan (1-8) took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but USM got to EMU starter Davis Feldman (0-2) for four runs in the top of the fourth inning, and then added a run in the fifth and four more in the seventh.
Outfielder Matt Wallner and third baseman Luke Reynolds scored two runs apiece and drove in one run each. Designated hitter Daniel Keating drove in a pair of runs and scored one, while leadoff man Gabriel Montenegro scored twice despite seeing a seven-game hitting streak snapped.
The first four hits off Powers never left the infield, but Eastern Michigan took advantage of five hits in the third inning to push across three runs on an infield single, a sacrifice fly and a solid single to center field by shortstop Max Schuemann.
But Feldman walked Reynolds and Wallner with one out and Slater followed with a single to score USM’s first run. Keating’s hot shot up the middle scored Reynolds to make it 3-2 and send Wallner to third base.
Keating stole second, and the ball got into center field, allowing Wallner to tie the game and sending Keating to third base. Catcher Cole Donaldson followed with a run-scoring grounder and USM never trailed again.
Four USM pitchers combined to strike out nine Eastern Michigan batters and walking just one. Eastern Michigan committed three costly errors and walked seven USM batters.
The two teams combined for 18 hits, though only one, right fielder Nate Jones’ ground-rule double, was the lone extra-base hit. Jones was the lone Eastern Michigan player with more than one hit, adding a single as well.
The Golden Eagles will meet Ohio State University (6-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday on the second day of the round-robin tournament. The Buckeyes took a 6-3 decision over Nicholls State University (1-8) earlier Friday.
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