HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) _ With the University of Southern Miss’ pitching rotation out of kilter this weekend, junior right-hander Walker Powell delivered the performance of his Golden Eagle career.
Powell, who did not make it out of the second inning in his last Friday night under the lights, turned in a three-hit, complete-game shutout, his first collegiate complete game and the first complete game by a Golden Eagle this season, as USM topped Old Dominion University 11-0 at Pete Taylor Park.
“It’s just the plan that Coach (Christian Ostrander) and I have put in place, just pitch to my strengths,” said Powell, who got 14 groundball outs and struck out six. “It’s pretty simple: Pitch to the (strike) zone and keep the ball down. You do that, you’re going to be pretty successful.”
It was the fourth consecutive Conference USA victory for the Golden Eagles (13-6, 4-0 C-USA) and their ninth win in the past 10 games. ODU (15-6, 1-3) saw a three-game winning streak snapped.
“Our offense is back on track, and I feel like we have our confidence back,” said USM outfielder Gabe Montenegro, who went 3-for-5 and scored three times from his leadoff spot atop the batting order.
USM mashed out 12 hits, including three each by Montenegro and first baseman Hunter Slater, who logged his fourth three-hit outings in his last five games. Slater drove in three runs.
Cleanup hitter Brant Blaylock drove in four runs, including a two-run single in USM’s three-run, third inning. Second baseman Matt Guidry drove in a pair of runs and scored three times and third baseman Danny Lynch scored twice.
“Our offense has picked up these last five games,” Berry said. “We only left eight on (Friday), and the thing I relay liked was that we kept getting runs in.
“The main thing is, we kept the momentum going by scoring runs.”
Powell (2-0) allowed runners to get as far as second base in only the second and third innings, did not walk a batter and needed less than 100 pitches to cover the nine innings.
USM scored off ODU starter Nick Pantos (3-1) in the first inning, when Guidry was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Slater’s single and scored on Blaylock’s grounder.
Pantos entered the game with a 1.44 ERA in five appearances before USM got to him for seven runs (six earned) on six hits. He struck out four, walked three and hit two batters.
The lead grew to 4-0 in the third inning, and then USM added three more runs in the fourth inning when Guidry had a two-out RBI-double and Slater followed with a two-run single.
Slater had an RBI-single in a two-run sixth inning, while Donaldson and Blaylock each drove in a run in the eighth to make the score 11-0.
The teams meet at 2 p.m. Saturday. With starter Stevie Powers sidelined, Southern Miss will turn to senior right-hander Mason Strickland to take the mound.