(WDAM) _ University of Southern Mississippi right-hander Walker Powell limited Middle Tennessee State University to six hits over nine innings Friday night as the Golden Eagles opened a three-game Conference USA baseball series with a 7-1 victory over the Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
USM (27-13, 15-4 C-USA), which collected its sixth consecutive victory, broke open a tie ballgame with a five-run, sixth inning, highlighted by Matt Wallner’s solo home run.
It was the 11th home run of the season for Wallner, who was one of five Golden Eagles Friday with two hits. The homer also was the 46th of his USM career, tying him for the third on the all-time list with former USM catcher Brad Willcutt.
USM went up 1-0 in the top of the second inning on a run-scoring single by Will McGillis before Raycen Thomas tied the game for the Blue Raiders (16-26, 9-10) with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning.
The Golden Eagles broke through against MTSU starter Caron Lester in the sixth inning.
Wallner homered to open the inning and break the 1-1 tie. McGillis and Montenegro drove in runs with one-out singles and Matt Guidry’s sacrifice fly made it 5-1 before Hunter Slater’s two-out double capped the rally.
Cole Donaldson’s two-out single scored the final of the game in the ninth inning.
Powell (5-2) had allowed just three hits through the first eight innings before allowing three consecutive singles with an out in the bottom of the ninth inning.
But Powell reached deep, striking out the final two batters he faced to sew up his third complete game of the year and the fourth of his career. He finished with just one run allowed on six hits over nine innings, walking none and striking out a career-best 10.
Lester (1-5) took the loss, allowing six runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out one.
Wallner had a home run and single, Slater a single and double and the bottom of the order, Hunter LeBlanc, Danny Lynch and McGillis, each had two singles. LeBlanc scored twice and McGillis drove in two runs.
The second game between the teams is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.