BIRMINGHAM, AL (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi baseball team took a trip in the time machine Sunday, accomplishing a feat not matched in a dozen years.
Erick Hoard sparked a six-run second inning with a two-run home run in just his third start of the season, and for the second consecutive day, the Golden Eagles' bullpen turned in a solid effort as the 13th-ranked Golden Eagles took down the University of Alabama-Birmingham 9-4 at Young Memorial Field.
USM (35-12, 19-4), which won for the 12th time in its last 13 games, picked up their third straight sweep of a three-game Conference USA series and swept the Blazers (19-26, 11-13) in Birmingham for the first time since 2006.
The Golden Eagles leads C-USA by 3 ½ games with six games left in the regular season, including the final home conference series of the season with Louisiana Tech University next weekend at Pete Taylor Park.
USM had clinched its 12th consecutive C-USA series by taking the first two games over the Blazers and Sunday's big inning put the Golden Eagles in the driver's seat early.
With one out, Hunter Slater walked and Hoard followed with his second home of the season over the wall in left-center for 2-0 lead.
Cole Donaldson, who finished with three hits, singled and went to third on Mason Irby's single. Donaldson scored on a fielder's choice ground ball. After Gabe Montenegro walked, Matthew Guidry doubled down the right-field line to score both Boyd and Montenegro to give USM a 5-0 lead.
Guidry moved to third on a wild pitch during a Reynolds' walk, and the Golden Eagles pulled off a double steal, with Guidry scoring on the back end for a 6-0 lead.
UAB, which had been outscored 12-1 in the first two games, chipped away at the lead, scoring single runs in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings.
But USM slammed the door with three, ninth-inning runs, including Donaldson's two-run single.
USM starter Walker Powell (6-2) picked up the win, allowing four runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Keller Bradford, Adam Jackson, J.C. Keys and Matt Wallner combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits, walking none and striking out three.
UAB starter Tyler Gates (4-2) took the loss, allowing six runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out two.
UAB out-hit USM 11-9, with Carter Pharis, Thomas Johns, Price Visintainer and Antonio Ralat getting two hits each. Nine of the Blazers; hits were singles, with Pharis and Visintainer hitting doubles.
USM got three hits from Donaldson and two from Irby. Hoard, Guidry and Donaldson each knocked in two runs, while Slater scored twice.