Monarchs club USM to even series
HATTIESBURG — Southern Miss got into a slugfest with Old Dominion on Saturday and wound up staring at the sky.
Turner Bishop and Jared Young both hit two-run home runs during a five-run second inning, and Old Dominion wiped out an early four-run deficit to outlast Southern Miss 13-11 at Pete Taylor Park.
“Slugfest is what we want,” USM freshman outfielder Matt Wallner said. “We usually think that we can win those games, but we’ve got to throw the ball better than what we did today. We just walked quite a bit of guys. As an offense we missed a few situations, but it’s hard to point that out when you score 11 runs.”
Despite the loss, Southern Miss maintained a two-game lead over Old Dominion in Conference USA. The teams will conclude their three-game series Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Florida Atlantic fell into third place after losing to UTSA for the second straight day, 6-0 on Saturday.
USM will need junior right-hander Taylor Braley to deliver in his first weekend start of the season when he takes the mound for the series finale. He is 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA in seven starts this season, all in the midweek role.
“I have total confidence in Braley,” Wallner said. “I know he’ll use that frustration to his advantage. I’m really confident going into tomorrow and I know we’ll get that Game 3 win.”
Southern Miss and Old Dominion combined for 27 hits, including 15 that went for extra bases.
Will Morgan hit three doubles for Old Dominion (27-12, 11-6 Conference USA) and finished 4-for-5 with six RBIs.
Wallner was 2-for-4 with a triple and four RBIs for Southern Miss (30-11, 13-4), while Hunter Slater was 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Wallner’s two-run triple in the bottom of the first inning helped stake Southern Miss to a 4-0 lead, but Old Dominion quickly responded.
Nick Walker led off the second inning with a ground-rule double and scored on a single by Morgan. Bishop followed with a two-run home run to cut it to 4-3. After Kyle Battle drew a two-out walk, Bishop homered over the right field fence to give the Monarchs the lead.
Morgan doubled in two runs in the third inning to make it 7-4.
Southern Miss struck back for four runs in the sixth inning to tie the game at 8. Slater drove in two runs with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Braley.
Old Dominion, however, took the lead for good by scoring four runs in the eighth — the last three on a double by Morgan.
Southern Miss got two back on a single by Wallner in the bottom of the eighth, and another in the ninth on a solo homer by Storme Cooper, but never regained the lead.
“Felt really good coming in scoring four runs in the first inning, but hats off to Old Dominion,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “Very disappointed that we didn’t perform better on the mound. It seemed like we stayed up in the zone all day where hitters like it. We stayed in advantage counts where hitters like it. We didn’t pitch down in the zone where the umpire wanted it and where hitters don’t like it. We’ve obviously got to do a much better job of that.”