MIAMI, FL - Saturdays have not proved kind of late for University of Southern Mississippi baseball.
Florida International University bunched five hits in a five-run fourth inning, including a three-run triple and two-run home run, and held off the Golden Eagles' late comeback effort to take a 5-4 Conference USA victory at Infinity Insurance Park.
USM (23-11, 9-4 C-USA), which dropped a Saturday conference game for a second consecutive Saturday, got within a run in the seventh inning on Luke Reynolds' two-run single with one out, but left two men stranded.
The Golden Eagles loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth when Reynolds and Matt Wallner singled and Hunter Slater was hit by a pitch. But reliever Steven Casey came out of the bullpen to retire Bryant Bowen on a grounder to second to pick up his second save of the season.
The Golden Eagles stranded 11 baserunners in the game.
USM took a 1-0 lead in the third inning off FIU starter Anders Nunez when Cole Donaldson doubled and Mason Irby followed with a run-scoring single.
But the Panthers (17-18, 7-7) got to USM starter Walker Powell an inning later. Powell, who had allowed just one run in his previous 10 innings, gave up consecutive singles to start the fourth, and after getting a strikeout, hit a batter to load the bases.
Lorenzo Hampton followed with a bases-clearing triple and Will Saxton's second home run of the season gave the hosts a 5-1 lead.
USM cut the deficit to 5-2 in the fifth inning on doubles by Irby and Gabe Montenegro, and then got within 5-4 on Reynolds' two-run single to left field.
Reynolds and Irby each had three hits for USM.
Powell (3-2) allowed five runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out four. Nunez (3-2) gave up two runs on five hits in six innings, walking two and striking out seven.
The rubber match of the three-game match-up is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, with USM aiming for its ninth consecutive C-USA series victory. The Golden Eagles opened the series with a 5-0 win Friday.