HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Southern Miss’ Danny Lynch hit a pair of grand slam home runs while Christopher Sargent and Reece Ewing hit back-to-back RBI singles in the eighth inning as the No. 23-ranked Golden Eagles claimed an 11-9 win over Louisiana in the regular-season finale for both teams on Saturday at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
Louisiana (36-20, 18-12 SBC), which will be the No. 4 seed in next week’s Guardian Credit Union Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship presented by Troy University, will play its first game at 7:30 on Wednesday against fifth-seeded Texas State at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala.
The Ragin’ Cajuns belted three home runs in the first inning off USM starter Matt Adams as Max Marusak and Kyle DeBarge belted solo homers in the first four pitches of the game. Heath Hood added a two-run shot later in the inning to give Louisiana a 4-0 lead.
Lynch tied the game in the bottom of the first inning with a grand slam to right field before Dustin Dickerson’s solo blast in the third for a 5-4 advantage.
Louisiana came back to tie the game at 5-5 in the fourth on DeBarge’s RBI grounder to plate CJ Willis before the Ragin’ Cajuns scored three times in the fifth to take an 8-5 lead as Conor Higgs belted a solo home run, Julian Brock scored on an error and Will Veillon drove in Hood from third with a sacrifice bunt.
Southern Miss would load the bases in the bottom of the fifth and Lynch would homer for the second time with his grand slam giving the Golden Eagles a 9-8 lead.
The Ragin’ Cajuns would battle back in the following inning when DeBarge singled, stole second and scored on Higgs’ triple into the right-center field gap.
Cooper Rawls (10-1) came relieved Landrey Wilkerson in the seventh inning after Lynch drew a walk to load the bases. Rawls got the Ragin’ Cajuns out of the inning after getting a pair of strikeouts and getting a pop-up to thwart the threat.
The Golden Eagles would break the deadlock in the eighth after Dickerson reached on a one-out error and Rodrigo Montenegro was hit by a pitch. Sargent would follow with a single through the right side to score Dickerson before Ewing followed with an RBI single to score pinch-runner Brady Faust to give USM the lead.
Justin Storm (3-1) pitched the final 2.1 innings to earn the win for the Golden Eagles. Sargent went 4-for-5 at the plate for USM with Dickerson and Ewing getting two hits each.
Marusak went 3-for-5 at the plate to lead Louisiana, which recorded 13 hits and left nine men on base. DeBarge, Higgs and Hood drove in two runs each for Louisiana.
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