HATTIESBURG Miss. (WLOX) -WKU scored five times in the sixth inning, overcoming a couple of early deficits, to defeat Southern Miss 9-4 Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park in taking the final game of the Conference USA series.
The Golden Eagles (26-13 overall, 13-6 C-USA) won its third-of-five league series this season, despite dropping the final game of the set with the Hilltoppers (19-21, 9-11).
Southern Miss jumped out to an early lead in the second as they scored two runs on one hit. Blake Johnson drove in the first run by being hit by a pitch, after the Golden Eagles loaded the bases on another hit by pitch and a pair of walks. Dustin Dickerson drove in the second run with a single and Southern Miss left the bases loaded for the first of two times during the game. USM left a total of 11 on base during the contest.
After WKU scored a pair of runs in the top of the third, Christopher Sargent collected his team-high tying eighth home run in the bottom of the frame, banging a pitch off the left-field foul pole in giving the home squad their final lead of the contest at 3-2.
The Hilltoppers got a leadoff double off Southern Miss starter Drew Boyd and went on to score five runs on four hits and took advantage of a Golden Eagle error to take the lead in the sixth. Boyd went five-plus innings and allowed three runs on five hits with six strikeouts and three walks but did not figure in the decision.
USM’s first reliever, Blake Wehunt, gave up three runs (two earned) over a third of an inning on a couple of hits to suffer the loss and fall to 1-1.
Southern Miss cut the gap with a solo run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI groundout from Gabe Montenegro, but the visitors added solo runs in the seventh and eighth to pull away.
Reliever Ryan O’Connell got the win for WKU as he went 2 1/3 innings and allowed one run on no hits with two walks and two strikeouts to improve to 1-3. Dalton Shoemake fanned six and gave up two hits and two walks over the final 3 2/3 to earn his first save.
Danny Lynch led the way for the Southern Miss with two of its four hits.
The Golden Eagles return to action next weekend when they travel to Houston for a four-game C-USA series with Rice.