Southern Miss posts season-high run total in rout of Middle Tennessee

Published 10:47 pm Friday, May 20, 2022

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Whatever funk they were in a couple of weeks ago, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles seem to have been safely put it behind them.

Southern Miss hit four home runs, including a grand slam by Blake Johnson, and posted a season-high run total as it hammered Middle Tennessee 17-0 on Friday.

Southern Miss (40-14, 22-7 Conference USA) won its fourth game in a row, following a stretch in which it had lost six of nine. The Golden Eagles clinched the C-USA regular-season championship and top seed in the conference tournament by beating Middle Tennessee in Thursday’s series opener, then followed it up with an impressive offensive performance.

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Southern Miss scored its 17 runs on 18 hits, starting with a solo home run by Reece Ewing in the top of the first inning. It tacked on three more runs in the third inning, one in the fourth, and then three more in the fifth on home runs by Christopher Sargent and Carson Paetow to make it 8-0.

Johnson’s grand slam was part of a seven-run burst in the eighth inning that was just adding insult to injury for Middle Tennessee (29-23, 17-12).

Johnson finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs, Ewing and Danny Lynch each scored three tuns, and Sargent was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Southern Miss pitcher Hunter Riggins (7-4) pitched seven shutout innings to get the win. He allowed six hits and no walks, and struck out five. Tyler Stuart and Ben Ethridge each pitched an inning of scoreless relief to finish up, and they combined for five strikeouts.

Southern Miss has walked no Middle Tennessee batters through the first two games of the series.

Every Middle Tennessee pitcher — all six of them — gave up at least one earned run.

The finale of the series and the regular season is Saturday at 1 p.m. Both teams will then head to the Conference USA Tournament that begins Wednesday at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg.

Southern Miss will play No. 8 seed UAB in its tournament opener Wednesday at 4 p.m., but seeds Nos. 2-7 will not be decided until after Saturday’s games. Three teams are tied with 18-11 conference records, while Middle Tennessee and Charlotte are both a game back at 17-12.