Southern Miss, LSU cruise to wins
By Patrick Magee
The Biloxi Sun Herald
BILOXI — Playing in front of family and friends, former Gulfport High School star Daniel Keating had a jolly old time in Southern Miss’ trip to the Coast Tuesday night.
Keating hit a two-run home run, his ninth of the season, as part of a six-run seventh inning to lead Southern Miss to an 11-3 win over Southeastern Louisiana.
Keating said it was nice to go deep in front of family and friends.
“It is, for sure,” he said. “Especially since I’ve been struggling the last couple of weeks. It was good to get that one in.”
The Golden Eagles improved to 41-12, tying the program’s mark for wins in a regular season. The last time they had that many was in 2003 when they hosted an NCAA regional in Hattiesburg.
USM starting pitcher J.C. Keys, who struggled with his control in recent games, proved up to the challenge against a tough Southeastern Louisiana lineup. Keys allowed one run on five hits in five innings, striking out two and walking one.
Keys improved to 3-3 and put himself in position to possibly make a start in next week’s Conference USA Tournament in Biloxi.
“I knew this game was going to be big because it was going to play a role in building more confidence for the conference tournament,” Keys said.
Southern Miss will travel to Texas-San Antonio to begin a three-game series to end the regular season on Thursday.
Southern Miss will play the No. 8 seed at 4 p.m. on May 24 on the first day of the C-USA tournament in Biloxi.
With Tuesday’s win, USM swept its two regular season games this season in Biloxi. It beat Nicholls State 16-8 on April 18.
Tuesday’s game should give USM a lift in the RPI rankings. The Lions entered with an RPI ranking of No. 27 while Southern Miss stood at No. 16.
“I think that was a big win for us in the midweek,” USM coach Scott Berry said. “They were hoping for one there to build their case and drop their RPI. We’re carrying a target on our back and have for quite a while.”
Hunter Slater got Southern Miss on the board in the third inning with a two-out single to right field to bring home LeeMarcus Boyd from second.
USM broke through with a four-spot in the fifth inning, starting with an RBI double to right center by Dylan Burdeaux to bring Boyd around from first base.
Braley stepped to the plate with two outs in the inning, with Burdeaux on third and Slater, who walked, on first. Braley lifted a drive to right center for his 12th home run of the season to give USM a 5-1 lead.
Southeastern Louisiana (34-17) put up a pair of runs in the seventh, but USM put up the six runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach.
Freshman Alex Nelms, another Gulfport product, pitched a scoreless ninth for Southern Miss.
Burdeaux went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI. Boyd went 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
LSU 9, Northwestern St. 3
Kramer Robertson went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, and three runs scored to lead LSU (36-17) to an easy win over Northwestern State (20-31).
Greg Deichmann and Zach Watson also homered for the Tigers, who finished with 14 hits. Cole Freeman had two hits and scored two runs.
Austin Townsend hit a two-run home run for Northwestern State.
Todd Peterson started on the mound for LSU and allowed one run in five innings to get the win. He struck out six.
Seven relief pitchers covered the last four innings for the Tigers.
LSU will play a three-game SEC series at Mississippi State beginning Thursday night.