Homer barrage carries Southern Miss to sweep

Published 1:35 am Monday, February 22, 2016

Southern Miss started the college baseball season with a round of home run derby.

Taylor Braley, Nick Dawson and Tim Lynch all hit solo home runs in the seventh and eighth innings as the Golden Eagles rallied from a three-run deficit to beat Eastern Illinois 6-4 Sunday in Hattiesburg.

Braley’s homer was his third of the young season, Lynch hit his second and Dawson his first. Southern Miss outscored Eastern Illinois 30-6 and hit nine home runs during its three-game sweep.

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Southern Miss is 3-0 for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

“I knew we’d been swinging it pretty well in (preseason) intrasquads,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “Not necessarily hitting home runs, but we were hitting a lot of doubles. So I knew the potential was there. Of course, these last three days with the wind blowing out, they were all hitter’s days. But we took advantage of it.”

Eastern Illinois broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the top of the sixth inning. Jimmy Govern scored on a wild pitch and Jason Scholl added a two-run single to put the Panthers ahead 4-1.

The Golden Eagles got one back in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Keating, before tying the game in the seventh on a solo homer by Braley and an RBI groundout by Claudio Rubiera.

Dawson then led off the eighth inning with a solo homer to left field, and Lynch went deep to right two batters later to put the Golden Eagles ahead 6-4.

All three homers came off of Eastern Illinois relievers. Starter Brendon Allen went 5 2/3 innings and only allowed two runs on one hit. He walked two and struck out four.

“(Allen) was dominating us early,” Berry said. “You walk away scratching your head, but the guy’s got a lot of deception. He was kind of textbooking us with fastballs hard in off the plate and a nice, deceptive breaking ball away. We just could never get to him. I was glad to see them go to the bullpen because I knew it would give us a fresh look at somebody else.”

Southern Miss reliever Cody Livingston allowed one hit over the last two innings to earn the win. USM’s bullpen threw four scoreless innings after starter Kirk McCarty gave up four runs in the first five innings.

McCarty walked two batters and struck out six.

Southern Miss (3-0) will return to action Tuesday night at 6 at home against Louisiana-Monroe. It’s part of an eight-game homestand to start the season.