HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - If the University of Southern Mississippi was hoping to rinse the bad taste of a Conference USA baseball series loss this past weekend in its final home game of the regular season, it sadly miscalculated.
In fact, if anything, that taste likely got worse.
USM sent seven pitchers to the mound to face a sub-.500 University of New Orleans and six of the seven not only gave up runs, but six of seven gave up multiple hits, as the Privateers pounded down the 18th-ranked Golden Eagles 14-9.
UNO (25-28), which came in hitting .265 as a team, rifled 22 hits throughout Pete Taylor Park, the most allowed by USM pitching in a game this season.
With the loss, USM (36-15) constructed its first losing streak of the season, dropping back-to-back games for the first time all year. The Golden Eagles lost for the third time in four games, all coming at home.
The Golden Eagles remain in first place in C-USA, leading the conference by 2 ½ games over both Louisiana Tech University and Florida Atlantic University with three, regular-season conference games left for each school.
USM, which stands 20-6 in the conference, opens its final C-USA series at 5 p.m. Thursday at Marshall University (19-28, 7-19 C-USA). One USM win or a loss by Louisiana Tech and Florida Atlantic would clinch the Golden Eagles' second consecutive C-USA crown.
Tuesday night, however, was less inspiring.
USM starter Jarod Wright hit a batter and walked a batter with an error by shortstop LeeMarcus Boyd thrown into the mix to load the bases in the first inning. Jay Robinson's double, the lone hit of the inning, gave UNO a 2-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles bounced right back, ripping seven hits in a six-run rally that gave them a four-run lead after an inning. Luke Reynolds, who would finish his evening with three hits and two runs scored, drove in a pair with a double. Daniel Keating had a run-scoring double, Gabe Montenegro an RBI-single and Hunter Slater a sacrifice fly.
But USM's pitching couldn't hold up.
UNO's Owen Magee swatted his seventh home run of the year in the second inning, a three-run shot, to pull the Privateers' within 6-5. After USM went up 7-5 on Slater's second sacrifice fly in as many innings, UNO cut the lead back to a run on Magee's single in the top of the third.
Again, USM pushed the lead back to two runs on Matthew Guidry's bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the third.
But the Privateers laced reliever Adam Jackson for four, consecutive hits to lead off the fourth inning. By the time the inning ended, UNO had scored four runs on six hits to take a 10-8 lead.
After 3 1/3 innings, the two teams had combined to account for 18 runs on 22 hits.
USM, which had seven hits in the opening inning and nine hits through three, went into a funk at the plate, managing just one hit over the next four innings. Still, the Golden Eagles threatened, thanks to six walks issued by UNO.
But USM came up empty in the fifth after getting two runners on base, and even worse, failed to score after loading the bases on three walks to open the sixth.
The teams swapped runs in the seventh to keep it a two-score game, but UNO added a run in the eighth inning and two more in the ninth.
Montenegro, Keating, Bowen and Mason Irby each had two hits in the Golden Eagles' 13-hit attack. Irby extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Jackson (1-1), who gave up five hits and four runs in 2/3 of an inning, took the loss for USM. Christopher DeMayo (1-1), the third of seven UNO pitchers, allowed a run on two hits over three innings to pick up the win.