Southern Miss thunders past Herd for series win

Published 11:31 pm Friday, May 18, 2018

On Thursday, Southern Miss clinched the Conference USA regular-season baseball championship. Friday afternoon, it won the series. On Saturday, it’ll go for the sweep.

Casey Maack capped a five-run rally in the sixth inning with a two-run home run, and Walker Powell pitched seven solid innings as the Golden Eagles beat Marshall 7-4 Friday in game two of their three-game series.

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Luke Reynolds also homered for Southern Miss (38-15, 22-6 Conference USA) and Cole Donaldson was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

The Golden Eagles clinched the regular-season C-USA title and the No. 1 seed in next week’s conference tournament with their 10-2 win over Marshall (19-30, 7-21) on Thursday night. Friday’s victory further pulled them out of a mini-slump in which they had lost three out of four games, and they can carry even more momentum into the postseason by completing the sweep in Saturday’s series finale that begins at 9:30 a.m.

The Conference USA Tournament begins Wednesday in Biloxi. USM will play at 4 p.m. that day against the No. 8 seed, which has yet to be determined.

Southern Miss has now won 12 of 13 series against Marshall since the Herd joined Conference USA in 2006.

Reynaldo Pastrana went 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored for Marshall, and Will Ray had a solo homer among his three hits. Ray’s home run in the third inning staked the Thundering Herd to a 2-0 lead.

Marshall starting pitcher Joshua Shapiro kept Southern Miss off the scoreboard early, but fell apart in the sixth inning. He allowed four singles and a sacrifice fly to the first five batters in the inning, as USM scored two runs.

Shapiro was lifted at that point for Hunter Sexton.

Maack was the first batter Sexton faced. A throwing error brought in a run before Maack hit a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall to give the Golden Eagles a 5-2 lead.

USM added two more runs in the seventh inning. Mason Irby led off with a single, and Reynolds followed with a two-run home run to left field for a 7-2 lead.

Marshall had chances to get back in the game down the stretch. Pastrana hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning, but the Herd left two runners on base in both the seventh and ninth.

With the bases loaded in the ninth, USM reliever Matt Wallner got Pastrana to hit into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Wallner only threw one pitch to earn his sixth save of the season.

Powell (7-2) got the win. Powell pitched into the eighth inning — he was taken out after Pastrana’s home run — and allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five.

Shapiro took the loss. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and five walks.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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