USM’s five homers ties a season-high in Game 2 blowout winBy CAMAL PETRO,
HATTIESBURG – The Southern Miss power bats put on a show Saturday afternoon in Game 2 against Louisiana Tech. In fact, USM had a season-high five home runs and of its eight hits through six innings, four were long balls.
The homers helped propel the Golden Eagles to a 16-1 win over the Bulldogs to even the series between Conference USA’s Top 2 teams. Southern Miss is now 36-13 overall and 20-5 in C-USA play, 3.5 games ahead of Louisiana Tech.
“I just think we put some good swings on some things,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “I wish I knew the answer to that one, but we’re a good offense and yesterday we didn’t put the numbers up and we missed on opportunities. Today, we cashed in on those opportunities.”
The rubber match is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. If Southern Miss wins, it’ll clinch the regular season conference title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament later this month.
“That was fun to get back at them today,” sophomore Matt Wallner, who had two home runs, said. “We love Louisiana Tech so much and it’s just fun to play them. They’re like our best friends, so it’s really fun to play them and have a good game against them.”
It was Senior Day at Pete Taylor Park, too, and the three seniors at the bottom of the lineup delivered for the Golden Eagles. Seniors Casey Maack, Mason Irby and LeeMarcus Boyd went a combined 5-for-11 with five runs and five RBI in the contest. Maack notched one of Southern Miss’ five home runs in the second inning to give USM a 2-1 lead.
Wallner and juniors Luke Reynolds and Hunter Slater picked up homers as well, as Wallner added two home runs in the game for his 12th and 13th of the season.
He said after the game his goal for the season is 15 home runs.
“It’s been since Middle Tennessee,” Wallner said of his home run drought. “It felt pretty good. Stevie (Powers) knows I need two more and I’ll be good.
“We can’t make bets, but I think I can get to 15 this year and (Powers) didn’t think so. I’m trying.”
Sophomore Walker Powell held the Bulldogs down offensively, pitching seven innings while scattering six hits. He gave up a second-inning solo home run to Tech’s third baseman Tanner Huddleston, but put five straight zeros on the board after the shot.
At the time, the home run tied the game at 1, and when Maack rounded the bases after making it 2-1 during the next half inning, he had a few words for Huddleston while rounding third base.
“I basically told him, ‘we’re coming for them,’” Maack said. “I couldn’t let him pimp everything off Walker. As soon as I hit it, I knew I had to return the favor.”
Southern Miss last notched a five-homer game last season against UTSA, and the school record for home runs in a contest is nine, which was set in 2004 against Saint Louis University.