RUSTON, LA (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi went into the weekend still seeking answers for their questionable offense on the baseball diamond.
The Golden Eagles apparently found some answers this weekend in their Conference USA-opening series at Louisiana Tech University.
USM completed a three-game sweep of the Bulldogs with a 10-5 victory Sunday at J.C. Love Field.
Bryant Bowen, who was shifted to designated hitter after catcher Cole Donaldson returned behind the plate, reached base in all five of his at-bats, swatting a two-run home run, a two-run double and a RBI-single and walking twice.
Donaldson picked up a pair of hits as well, including a bases-clearing, three-run double to jump-start the Golden Eagles in the first inning.
USM rattled off another 12 hits Sunday against six Bulldogs, bringing the weekend total to 40, as the Golden Eagles collected at least a dozen hits in each of the three games. The Golden Eagles scored 27 runs in the series, tying the number scored in a season-opening series sweep of Purdue University.
Five USM players had at least two hits Sunday, and even those who didn’t swing it particularly well contributed. First baseman Hunter Slater, right fielder and center fielder Brant Blaylock had one hit between them, but walked six times and scored five runs.
USM used six pitchers to check the Bulldogs (11-8, 0-3) on seven hits for a second consecutive game.
Right-hander Mason Strickland (2-0), USM’s second pitcher of the day, picked up the win after allowing a run on three hits in three innings. He walked one and struck out one.
Left-hander Ryan Och picked up his first save of the season, allowing three walks and striking out one in two scoreless innings.
Louisiana Tech starter Logan Bailey (1-3) took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits over three innings. He walked four and struck out four.
The Golden Eagles (11-6, 3-0 C-USA), who won for the seventh time in their last eight games, avenged their only conference series loss of 2018. Louisiana Tech was the only team to win a C-USA series last spring against the Golden Eagles, taking two of three games in Hattiesburg.
USM jumped out 3-0 Donaldson’s first-inning double before Louisiana Tech cut the lead to 3-2 after a two-run home run by Tech first baseman Mason Mallard in the bottom of the inning off USM starter Adam Jackson.
The Golden Eagles went up 4-2 in the third on Bowen’s run-scoring single, but Tech scored an unearned run when Blaylock dropped a fly-ball in center field.
USM pushed the lead back to 7-3 in the fifth inning on Bowen’s two-run double and an RBI double by shortstop Will McGillis.
And back came Tech. The Bulldogs cut the lead to 7-4 in the sixth inning on two walks and two hit-batsmen, and then made the score 7-5 in the seventh on a run-scoring double play.
Second baseman Matthew Guidry put USM back up three runs with his second home run of the season, a solo shot to right field in the top of the eighth inning, and Bowen’s second homer of the season, a two-run shot, slammed shut the door in the top of the ninth inning.
The Golden Eagles will begin a four-game home-stand at 6 p.m. Tuesday, when USM welcomes the University of Louisiana-Monroe to Pete Taylor Park.