MURFREESBORO, TN (WDAM) - Hunter LeBlanc drove in four runs and the University of Southern Mississippi took advantage of five Middle Tennessee State University errors to take a 6-5 victory Sunday over the Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
With its eighth consecutive victory, the Golden Eagles (29-13, 17-4 Conference USA) swept the three-game series and remained two games ahead of Florida Atlantic University atop the C-USA standings.
USM nearly gained another game on the Owls, but FAU scored seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 8-7 the finale of a weekend series with Old Dominion University.
The Golden Eagles will host the Owls next weekend at Pete Taylor Park.
USM managed just six hits Sunday against MTSU (16-31, 9-12), but walked five times and was aided by five Blue Raider errors. Five of the Golden Eagles’ six runs were unearned.
The Golden Eagles trailed after MTSU scored twice in the first inning on a Blake Benefield’s double and a throwing error. Brett Stratinsky made it 3-0 in the second inning with a solo homer.
USM got a run back in the fifth on Brant Blaylock’s sacrifice bunt, then tied the game in the sixth on a single by LeBlanc and run-scoring grounder by Danny Lynch.
In the seventh inning, USM loaded the bases with two outs on two walks and an error before LeBlanc tripled into the left-center field gap to put the Golden Eagles ahead 6-3.
MTSU pulled within a run when Stratinsky hit his second home run of the day and third of the series, a two-run shot to right field.
Hunter Stanley relieved Sean Tweedy, and got out of the inning on a pop up, a single and then a liner that he snared and turned into a double play at first base.
Tweedy (6-1) picked up the win, allowing two runs on two hits in two innings, walking none and striking out five. Stanley earned his second save of the season, allowing a hit in three scoreless innings while striking out one.
MTSU reliever Josh Young (1-5) got the loss, allowing two unearned runs on a hit in 1 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out three.
LeBlanc finished with a triple and two singles, collecting half of USM’s hits. Matt Wallner had two singles, walked once and scored twice.
Stratinsky drove in three runs with his two home runs.
USM returns to Hattiesburg for a four-game homestand, starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday when the University of Mississippi visits Pete Taylor Park.
The Rebels, who are coming off a sweep of Texas A&M University, topped USM 11-2 on April 9 at Trustmark Park in Pearl.