Junior Chase Scott sprints as he hits a home run Saturday afternoon before the rain delay against Florida Atlantic at Pete Taylor Park. The Golden Eagles fall at the resumed game on Sunday 10-5. -Susan Broadbirdge/Printz
Southern Miss drew a tough weekend series facing off against the No. 16 Florida Atlantic Owls at Pete Taylor Park. Southern Miss entered the weekend series on a two-game win streak and a record of 20-12-1 overall and 8-6 in Conference USA play, good for fourth in the conference.
The biggest opponent for both teams was the weather. The weekend was expected to see heavy rain fall, so they were forced to play a doubleheader on Friday and play the final game of the series on Saturday.
Southern Miss jumped to an early first inning lead in game one. Michael Sterling led off the bottom of the first inning for the Golden Eagles with a double to center field on the first pitch he saw. Connor Barron drew a walk, and after a Dylan Burdeaux flyout, Taylor Braley singled to left field to bring in Sterling and gave Southern Miss a 1-0 lead.
Two batters later, Matt Durst reached first base on a wild pitch; Braley and Barron were both able to advance bases on the pitch. Chase Scott added to the Golden Eagle lead with a single that brought Braley and Barron home, expanding the lead to 3-0.
The Eagles looked like they had complete control of the game until the third inning when the Owls started to chip away at the Southern Miss lead.
Christian Dicks led off the third inning with a single to right field. C.J. Chatham followed with a single to left field to put runners on first and second. The next two Owl batters struck out looking.
With two outs, runners on first and second, Brett Lashley brought Dicks home on a single. With two runners on base, the Golden Eagles got out of the inning when Brendon Sanger grounded out to second base.
The Owls edged a little closer in the fourth inning when Roman Collins hit a solo home run to right field. With the score notched at 3-2, Southern Miss added to the lead in the fourth.
Roussel led off for USM and doubled to center field and advance to third on a sacrifice bunt. Roussel scored on a Barron single to center field, pushing the score to 4-2.
Florida Atlantic exploded in the sixth inning for four runs, taking control of the game. Brendon Sanger put the Owls in good position when he reached first on a walk. Sanger reached second when Ricky Santiago singled up the middle. FAU’s Collins struck out looking before Esteban Puerta reached first on a hit by pitch.
With one out and the bases loaded, Southern Miss brought in Luke Lowery on the mound to relieve Cody Carroll. Santiago and Sanger scored when Dicks doubled to center field, evening the score at 4-4. Chatham followed with a two-run single to score Dicks and Puerta.
Christian Talley came in for Lowery and was able to get out of the inning when Stephen Kerr lined out to center field for the third out.
FAU put the game out of reach in the seventh inning. Lashley led off for the Owls and singled to get on base. A catcher’s interference call put Sanger on first and advanced Lashley to second. After Santiago struck out, a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners for FAU.
Puerta put the Golden Eagles away when he tripled, bringing in both runners and pushing the lead to 8-4. USM failed to muster any more offense and lost game one 8-4.
Carroll pitched 5.1 innings, giving up six hits, five runs and striking out five batters. Talley pitched 3.1 innings, giving up two hits and two runs while striking out two batters.
Head Coach Scott Berry knew his team could not play the second game with the same attitude they played with in the first game.
“We had to come out and make an adjustment with our attitude to give us a chance to win the series and that’s what we did,” he said.
The Golden Eagles looked like a new team in game two, holding FAU to its lowest scoring output of the year and its fewest hits since March 4.
Kirk McCarty got the call on the mound in game two for Southern Miss and limited the visitors to just one unearned run over seven innings, giving up five hits and three walks while striking out three to earn the victory and improve to 3-0 on the year.
Durst got the scoring started with an RBI single, plating Daniel Keating, in the first inning. Scott led off the second inning and was hit by a pitch to reach first. Chuckie Robinson was walked to put runners on first and second. Nick Dawson used a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners before Sterling grounded out to score Scott and gave USM an early 2-0 lead.
The Owls would finally get on the board in the fifth inning, taking advantage of two Southern Miss errors. The Golden Eagles then exploded for four runs in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach. With one out, Durst and Lynch hit back-to-back singles. Burdeaux reached first on a fielder’s choice and second on a throwing error. Durst scored on the error.
Scott then hit an RBI single to bring Lynch home. USM executed a beautiful double steal as Scott stole second and Burdeaux stole home. Dawson doubled to left field to bring Scott home and gave USM a 6-1 lead. The Owls failed to produce at the plate as USM got the 6-1 win.
The final game of the series was suspended in the third inning, due to rain. The Golden Eagles were down 4-2 with two runners on base when the game stopped Saturday and resumed Sunday morning.
The FAU Owls scored their four runs on five hits in the second inning. Southern Miss answered back just before the game was called with a solo home run by Scott, his first of the year, and an RBI single from Braley.
FAU added to its lead in the sixth when Puerta hit a leadoff home run over the left field wall. USM answered back when Lynch homered over the right field wall to lead off the bottom frame, making it a 5-3 ball game.
In the seventh inning, FAU added another run when Santiago homered over center field.
FAU put the game away in the top of the ninth, scoring four more runs, increasing its lead to 10-3.
The Golden Eagles had their work cut out for them to come back. Southern Miss chipped away at the lead when Roussel led off with a solo home run. After Ryan Ellis grounded out, Sterling singled and Barron followed up with a double to put runners on second and third. Sterling reached home on a sacrifice fly to cut the FAU lead in half, 10-5. But USM failed to pull any closer and lost their first series in nearly a month.
Southern Miss (21-14-1, 9-8 C-USA) returns to action Tuesday when it hosts Louisiana-Monroe. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.