USM clinches final C-USA series with 7-4 win

BECKLEY, W.VA. - Casey Maack and Luke Reynolds each hit two-run home runs as the University of Southern Mississippi clinched its final Conference USA series of the regular season with a 7-4 win Friday afternoon over Marshall University.

Walker Powell pitched seven effective innings and the bullpen worked through threats in the final two frames at Epling Stadium to set the Golden Eagles up for a first ever weep of the Thundering Herd's home turf.

Marshall (19-30, 7-21 C-USA) took a 2-0 lead off Powell, scoring in the first inning on Dakota Robbins' run-scoring double and in the third on Will Ray's solo home run.

But the Golden Eagles (38-15, 21-6) took the lead with five runs in the top of the sixth.

Reynolds, Matt Wallner and Hunter Slater hit consecutive singles off Marshall starter Joshua Shapiro (2-5) to get the Golden Eagles' on the board. Cole Donaldson followed an out later with an RBI single, and Reynolds scored the go-head run on a throwing error by catcher Reynaldo Pastrana.

Shapiro was relieved by Hunter Sexton, who promptly gave up Maack's third home run of the season, a two-run shot to left that put the Golden Eagles ahead by three runs.

After Mason Irby extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the seventh inning, Reynolds cracked a two-run home run, his team-leading 14th of the season, to give USM a 7-2 lead.

Powell (7-2), who had kept Marshall off the scoreboard for four innings, saw Ray reach base on a an error to start the eighth inning and then gave up a two-run home run to Pastrana as the Herd pulled back within three runs.

Trent Driver relieved, and worked around a two-out single to get out of the inning, but then gave up consecutive one-out singles in the ninth.

Adam Jackson relieved Driver, but took a line shot off his arm that went for an infield single to load the bases.

Wallner came in from center field and with one pitch induced a game-ending double play to pick up his sixth save.

Powell allowed four runs on eight hits over seven innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.

Donaldson and Reynolds, who drove in two runs and scored twice, each had two hits.

Ray hit three singles for Marshall, and Pastrana had a double and home run. Each scored two runs for the Herd.

The teams are scheduled to wrap up the three-game series at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

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