Season-High Homer Total Helps Baseball Even Series with La Tech in 16-1 Win
Southern Miss cracked five home runs in a game for the first time this season, including two by Matt Wallner, as the 13th-ranked Golden Eagles bounced back with a 16-1 Conference USA victory Saturday over Louisiana Tech at Pete Taylor Park.
Less than 24 hours after dropping a 10-6 decision to the Bulldogs, the Golden Eagles soared to a rebound win that left them within a game of clinching their second consecutive regular-season conference crown.
Should Southern Miss (36-13, 20-5 C-USA) take the 1 p.m., Sunday rubber match from Tech (34-18, 17-9) it would leave the Golden Eagles with no worse than a 3 ½-game lead with just three conference left to play.
"It ought to be interesting," Southern Miss third baseman Luke Reynolds said. "We're playing for a championship."
Reynolds, who came up with a pair of defensive plays that helped Southern Miss out of a jam in the fourth inning, smacked his 13th home run in the first inning to get the Golden Eagles' offense going.
Southern Miss scored in every inning except the fifth and ended the game an inning early with a four-run, eighth inning that brought the conference's 15-run rule into play.
"(Friday), we missed out on opportunities, and (Saturday), we cashed in on them," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "(Saturday), we showed back up. The momentum, we had it the whole time."
Wallner hit his 12th and 13th home runs, a three-run shot just to the right of center field in the sixth inning and a solo homer in the eighth. Wallner also had a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning as he tied his season high with five runs batted in.
Hunter Slater knocked in four runs, cracking a three-run home run in the third inning for his ninth on the season and a run-scoring double in the eighth inning.
After Reynolds homer in the first, the Bulldogs would score their lone run in the second inning when Tanner Huddleston hit his seventh homer of the season.
But Casey Maack, making a rare start at second base, put the Golden Eagles back ahead 2-1 with his second home run of the year in the bottom of the inning.
Southern Miss would finish with 14 hits, including three by Slater and two each by Wallner, Reynolds, LeeMarcus Boyd and Mason Irby. Irby extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a sixth-inning single.
Southern Miss starter Walker Powell (6-2) allowed just a run on six hits over seven innings. He walked none, struck out six and got inning-ending double plays in consecutive innings.
Louisiana Tech starter Logan Robbins (7-1), brother of former Southern Miss standout Mason Robbins, was charged with seven runs on five hits over three innings. It was the first loss Robbins had suffered in three seasons, following an undefeated career at Jones County Junior College.