April 13, 2013
Box Score - Game One (PDF) | Box Score - Game Two (PDF)
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Marshall baseball team fell twice to Southern Miss by scores of 4-1 and 8-7 on Saturday, allowing the Golden Eagles to take a Conference USA series sweep at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
In each contest, USM took advantage of a big inning to come away victorious. In game one, it was a three-run fourth that propelled Southern Miss to the series-clinching win. In game two, Marshall held a 7-4 lead midway through the eighth but gave up four Golden Eagle runs in what would be their final at-bat.
Marshall’s record on the season dropped to 13-22 (3-6 C-USA). Southern Miss, which won its seventh straight, improved to 18-17 (8-4 C-USA).
In game one, a three-run fourth from Southern Miss proved to be the difference in the game. The Golden Eagles were held to seven hits but hit three of them, all for extra bases, in the fourth. Catcher Chase Fowler’s two-out, two-run triple down the right field line broke the scoreless tie and gave USM a lead it would not relinquish.
Despite throwing his sixth consecutive quality start, Aaron Blair (5-2) suffered his first loss since the opening weekend of the season. Blair went six innings and held Southern Miss to two hits outside of the fourth inning (five total). The junior right-hander struck out five and walked one.
Marshall scored its lone run of the game on an Eric Escobedo RBI-single in the sixth. The Thundering Herd had a chance to cut further into the deficit as Escobedo’s base hit put runners on first and second with one out, but the inning ended with the only double play turned in the contest.
Game one’s winning pitcher was USM starter Andrew Pierce who threw a complete-game three-hitter, allowing two walks with eight strikeouts.
Isaac Ballou earned a single after battling a nine-pitch at-bat in the third inning. The hit extended his streak of reaching base to 26 games, which he quickly added to in game two.
In the opening at-bat of the nightcap, Ballou singled up the middle, bringing his run of reaching base to a career-high-tying 27 games. The single also gave him 12 straight games with a base hit.
Marshall used Ballou’s single to punch a run across in the first, and it would go on to score in three of the first four innings. In the fifth, the Herd opened things up with a three-spot, thanks mostly to senior Alfredo Brito who doubled in two runs off the wall in right-center.
Freshman Aaron Bossi also had an RBI in the fifth, flying out on a sacrifice to left field.
After Southern Miss got two of those runs back, Marshall added an insurance run in the eighth when Andrew Dundon legged out a would-be double play ball to drive in Sergio Leon from third.
In the bottom of the eighth, Southern Miss erased a 7-4 lead by plating four runs (three earned) on just two hits as the Herd committed two errors and walked three. Junior Josh King (0-1) suffered the loss.
Freshman Mardu Smith gave Marshall life in the ninth with a one-out double that put the tying run in scoring position, but Southern Miss closer Bradley Roney closed the door by striking out Brito and Matt Kirkwood.
Marshall had 14 hits to Southern Miss’ eight. Three of the Herd’s hits came via bunts as seven Marshall at-bats resulted in a bunt (four for sacrifices). In fact, through the sixth inning, Marshall had as many bunts for hits as Southern Miss had total hits (three).
Three of MU’s hits came from Sergio Leon who finished 3-for-4 with a run. Three other members of the Herd had multihit games, including Ballou (2-for-3), Nathan Gomez (2-for-5), and Brito (2-for-5).
Southern Miss designated hitter Austin Roussel and second baseman Isaac Rodriguez both finished with two hits to pace the Golden Eagles.
Marshall will be on the road Tuesday for a 6 p.m. meeting with Ohio in Athens, Ohio, before heading to Orlando, Fla., for a three-game set with the UCF Knights over the weekend.