Scott Berry’s Southern Miss team keeps finding ways to win, with help from a terrific pitching staff and clutch hitting.
The Golden Eagles capped a sweep of FIU Saturday with a 6-4, 12-inning win punctuated by Reece Ewing’s eighth homer, a two-run shot. It was their ninth straight win and fifth by two runs or fewer during the streak.
Southern Miss vaulted five spots to No. 6 in the D1baseball.com poll. Not that Berry mentions that sort of thing to his team, preaching instead that ”steady wins the race.”
”I haven’t brought it up one time,” Berry said Monday. ”I’ve probably had 25 text messages today, people saying, `How are you going to keep them grounded?’
”All I can tell you is we don’t ever talk about rankings. I feel they are a reward for the body of work that you’ve done that people recognize, but it’s more for the fans. It’s more for recruiting than it should be for your team in getting caught up in that.”
The Golden Eagles have the top pitching staff in Conference USA, led by starters Tanner Hall (6-0, 2.21 ERA, 77 strikeouts) and Hurston Waldrep (3-1, 2.01) and closer Landon Harper (1-1, 1.66, six saves). Southern Miss ranks second nationally with a 2.78 team ERA.
And the lineup has flashed some power during the winning streak.
Will McGillis beat Charlotte with a 13th-inning homer in another series finale.
Then there was Danny Lynch’s three-run, eighth-inning shot that powered a comeback 10-7 win over Mississippi.
”I never wavered that those guys weren’t going to find a way to win that baseball game, at all,” Berry said. ”Just because of who they are and the way they conduct themselves in the dugout, the way they push one another. It seems like there’s somebody that’s always picking somebody up.”
The Golden Eagles are chasing their sixth straight 40-win season. Only Dallas Baptist (23-12) has a longer such streak, at seven in a row.
Southern Miss has won all nine C-USA road games.
IN THE POLLS
Tennessee (33-3) remained No. 1 after rebounding from a series-opening loss at Alabama with two wins that included some fireworks.
Coach Tony Vitello bumped third-base umpire Jeffrey Macias during Saturday’s 9-2 win, and the NCAA subsequently suspended him for four games. Pitching coach Frank Anderson was also ejected and suspended for Sunday’s game – which the Vols won 15-4 – for his role in the ruckus.
D1baseball.com has Oregon State second and Oklahoma State third. In Collegiate Baseball’s poll, the Volunteers are followed by Arkansas and Oklahoma State. Baseball America has Oklahoma State at No. 2 and Oregon State third.
Rutgers kept its 15-game win streak alive with a two-run, ninth-inning rally in the series finale against Indiana capped by Jordan Sweeney’s walk-off homer. The Scarlet Knights have won their first four Big Ten series.
Arkansas held LSU to six runs in a three-game sweep, the Razorbacks’ first over the Tigers since 2011. Ace Connor Noland carried a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings in the opener, and Hagen Smith and Jaxon Wiggins followed with strong outings.
NOT MESSICK AROUND
Florida State’s Parker Messick opened a series win over Louisville with a masterful outing against the nation’s top-scoring team. Messick had his second 14-strikeout game of the season and didn’t walk a batter while pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
Florida’s BT Riopelle hit three homers against Vanderbilt. USC’s Tyler Lozano produced the Trojans’ first three-homer game since Ricky Oropesa in 2010.