USM baseball opens C-USA play with doubleheader victories

USM baseball opens C-USA play with doubleheader victories

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi was aiming to get off on the right foot as it opened Conference USA play with a day-night doubleheader Saturday with visiting University Texas-San Antonio at Pete Taylor Park.

Mission accomplished.

Behind a stellar pitching performance from Nick Sandlin and 14 hits from the offense, the 15th-ranked Golden Eagles swamped the Roadrunners 12-2 in the opener.

The nightcap proved much tougher, with the Golden Eagles pulling out a 4-3 victory with a run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Pinch-runner Fred Franklin scored the game-winner from third base when shortstop LeeMarcus Boyd beat out an infield single with a head-first slide.

"When I saw that I had chance to get there, I busted my tail to get out of the (batter's) box and try to beat it out," Boyd said.

With the double dip, USM (14-4, 2-0 C-USA) extended its current winning streak to six games while logging its 14th consecutive, regular-season conference victory.

"It's a mindset," USM coach Scott Berry said of USM's second consecutive weekend with a weather-altered Saturday doubleheader.

"But that was the challenge going in from (Friday)."

The Golden Eagles and Roadrunners saw Friday's scheduled series opener postponed by inclement weather, setting up Saturday's twinbill.

Anticipated bad weather also has shuffled Sunday's schedule, with first pitch pushed up from 1 p.m. to 10 a.m.

"I've told the team that they've put themselves in a great position with the opportunity to sweep," Berry said. "To win two games, the first two games, and put yourself in that position, you don't want to waste that opportunity."

In Saturday's second-game, UTSA went up 1-0 in the third inning on an RBI-double by shortstop Aldo Buenda.

The Roadrunners (7-10, 0-2) made it 2-0 when designated hitter Tony Beam led off the fourth inning against USM left-handed starter Stevie Powers with third home run of the season.

Three batters later, Powers removed himself from the game when a strained oblique muscle became too much of an obstacle to pitch through.

Keller Bradford and J.C Keys (1-1) then combined to pick up the next 4 2/3 innings. Keys shouldered the brunt, allowing a run on two hits over 3 1/3 innings. He walked one, struck out three.

"He's the one who won us this ballgame, throwing up those zeroes," Boyd said. "He did a good job."

Trailing 3-0 after 5 ½ innings, Southern Miss scored twice in the bottom of the fifth inning off UTSA left-handed starter Steven Dressler on a wild pitch and a fielder's choice.

The Golden Eagles tied the game in the seventh on Matthew Guidry's single up the middle, and then pushed across the game-winner in the eighth off reliever Zachary Griggs (0-1).

Catcher Bryant Bowen, who went 2-for-3 and drove in a run, drew a one-out walk, with Franklin taking his spot on the base paths.

Franklin stole second base, moved to third base on a hopper to first and then scored when Boyd beat out a big chopper to short.

Matt Wallner then picked up his third save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning.

Copyright WDAM 2018. All Rights Reserved.