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USM beats UAB to clinch series

HATTIESBURG — Southern Miss checked off a laundry list of milestones on Saturday..

Kirk McCarty turned in the fifth consecutive quality start by a Golden Eagle pitcher, and Taylor Braley and Mason Irby drove in three runs each as Southern Miss beat UAB 9-4 to clinch its eighth Conference USA series of the season.

McCarty (8-2) gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits over six innings. He struck out seven and walked none.

Southern Miss outfielder Matt Wallner broke out of a mini slump by going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Braley and Bryant Bowen had two hits apiece as the Golden Eagles cranked out 15 hits against four UAB pitchers.

By winning their ninth consecutive game overall, the Golden Eagles (39-12, 21-5 Conference USA):

• Posted their most regular-season wins since 2005.

•Became just the sixth team in program history to win at least 39 games in the regular season.

• And whittled their magic number to two to clinch an outright C-USA regular-season championship. Any combination of two Southern Miss victories and/or Old Dominion losses over the final four C-USA regular-season games would give USM its first outright championship since 2003.

“It’s what I love about this team,” said USM first baseman Dylan Burdeaux, who had three hits and scored twice Saturday. “We don’t discuss (magic numbers) at all. We don’t talk about (Ratings Percentage Index). We don’t talk about standings in the conference. We just literally look day-to-day. We look for who tomorrow’s opponent is, and that’s UAB. So, it’s just another day to win a baseball game. Coach (Scott) Berry talks about it all the time, just go 1-0 the next day.”