HATTIESBURG, MS (USM) - Bryant Bowen and Will McGillis homered to back the pitching of Walker Powell to win the opener 4-1, while Matthew Guidry and Bowen each knocked in two runs in the nightcap as the Southern Miss completed the sweep with a 5-3 victory over Holy Cross Friday at Pete Taylor Park.
The final game of the series is set to take place at 12 noon Saturday. The game was moved up to beat potential rain that is expected to hit the area on Saturday.
Powell allowed four baserunners over seven innings, matching a career high with seven strikeouts as the Golden Eagles (7-5) notched their third quality start of the season.
“Pitching and defense carried us,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said, who notched his 350th career victory at Southern Miss in the nightcap. “We got some timely hitting and scored enough runs and didn’t beat ourselves on defense.”
Powell (1-0) allowed one run on three hits over his seven innings, walking one and matching his career high with seven strikeouts.
“The slider, the off-speed, I was working them in early in the count, so that definitely helped with the strikeouts,” Powell said. “I was able to put some guys away with the cutter and slider.”
Reliever Alex Nelms allowed two hits in both the eighth and ninth inning, but kept the Crusaders (1-13) off the scoreboard to pick up his first save of the season.
USM grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Holy Cross right-hander Pat McGowan (0-4).
Center fielder Gabe Montenegro singled and then moved to third base on McGowan’s errant pickoff attempt. After second baseman Matthew Guidry was hit by a pitch, first baseman Hunter Slater slashed a single to center to score Montenegro.
Bryant’s first clout of the season cleared the billboard in left field for a 2-0 lead, and after USM loaded the bases on a pair of walks and hit-by-pitch, Montenegro made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.
McGowan allowed three runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out two.
Powell, who had not allowed a baserunner through four innings, walked third baseman Alex Gionis with an out in the fifth inning.
After first baseman Evan Blum singled to right field to break up the no-hitter, designated hitter Nate Wolf blooped a two-out single to left field to score Gionis.
But Powell got a ground out to end the inning and then set down the Crusaders in order in the sixth inning. In the seventh, Powell gave up a leadoff single before retiring the next three batters in succession.
McGillis’ first home run as a Golden Eagle sailed over the fence in left-center field to end the scoring.
McGillis had two hits and was hit by a pitch to reach base three times. Slater and Montenegro each had two singles.
Stevie Powers allowed a run in five innings and right-hander J.C. Keys worked three scoreless innings at the end as Southern Miss clinched the three-game series with the visitors from Worcester, Mass.
Second baseman Matthew Guidry hit his first home run of the season in the first inning and the Golden Eagles cobbled together a four-run fifth inning to grab a 5-0 lead after three innings.
Holy Cross closed, getting one back in the top of the fourth inning on a solo home run off Powers by second baseman Peter Dudunakis and then got within two runs with two runs in the sixth off Southern Miss reliever Aaron Ginn.
But right-hander J.C. Keys allowed just two walks over the final three innings, tying a career best with seven strikeouts to pick up his first save of the season.
“Great job by J.C. there,” Berry said.
Powers (2-2) allowed a run on four hits over five innings, striking five and walking none.
Holy Cross starter Liam Dvorak (1-2) allowed five runs on seven hits over five innings, walking two while striking out seven.
Left fielder Gabe Montenegro singled off Dvorak with one out and scored on Guidry’s double to right field. Guidry moved up a base on an error during the play, which proved costly for Holy Cross when first baseman Hunter Slater followed with a sacrifice fly to center field for a 3-0 lead.
Southern Miss wasn’t through. Designated hitter Erick Hoard doubled with two outs and right fielder Matt Wallner was intentionally walked. Catcher Bryant Bowen then lifted a flyball along the right-field line that Holy Cross’ Ben Malgeri lost in the lights.
The ball fell in fair territory, sending both Hoard and Wallner home to give Southern Miss a 5-0 lead.
“Honestly, I thought that was going to be a foul ball, but I’ll take it,” Bowen said.
After Dudunakis homer, Ginn allowed two runs on two hits while striking out a pair. The first run scored on a sacrifice fly by Dudunakis and the other scored on the second of two wild pitches by Ginn.
But the Crusaders could not manage a hit over the final three innings, coaxing a two-out walk off Keys in both the seventh and eighth innings.