USM (41-20) won its opening game in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year, downing Troy 14-1 a year ago in the Oxford Regional. The Golden Eagles advance in the winner’s bracket to face No. 7 national seed LSU in a 6 p.m. Saturday contest.
After a great start from Southern Miss pitcher Barry Bowden in which he did not allow a hit over the first five-plus innings, the Privateers finally collected a double that kicked off the glove of USM first baseman Trey Sutton into the corner.
That led to six runs in the frame by the Privateers, which chased Bowden from the game. An RBI single by Ryan Eden, followed by a two-run single by Johnny Giavotella and a three-run home run, his 13th, off of reliever Wade Weathers to tie the score at 6-6.
The Golden Eagles put the game out of reach in the seventh on consecutive homers by Trey Sutton and Drew Carson. It was the first time this season USM has hit back-to-back homers this year. Michael Ewing, who along with Davis and Dozier had three hits apiece, blasted a three-run homer to complete the Golden Eagles score en route to a five-RBI night.
Weathers (4-1) threw 1 1/3 innings of relief allowing a run on two hits to get the win. Bowden allowed five runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
UNO starter Justin Garcia (6-2) got tagged with the loss by allowing eight runs (five earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts.
The Golden Eagles used small ball to get things going offensively in the third inning to plate the first run. With one out, Davis executed a perfect drag bunt just past the pitcher on the first-base side.
Dozier then laced a single into centerfield on a hit-and-run play that allowed Davis to reach third and then score when Privateer leftfielder Joey Butler bobbled the ball to allow the game’s first run.
The Privateers looked liked they would tie the game in the fourth, but Southern Miss leftfielder Drew Carson snagged a potential home run off the bat of T.J. Baxter to keep the nation’s No. 5 offensive team scoreless.
Carson led off the home half of the fourth with a slow rolling single to third base. Kyle Maxie executed a hit- and-run with a ground ball to the shortstop, but the flip to second base was not in time to retire Carson. After Chris Matesich laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, Keith Winstead was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.
Michael Ewing followed with a deep fly ball to the fence in right field that was dropped by Mark McGonigle and scored a hit to score Carson and Maxie. Dozier continued the rally with an infield single to load the bases for the second time in the inning.
James Ewing hit a rocket right at first to Joey Butler but the ball skipped right past him into right field to score Winstead and Michael Ewing. McGonigle attempted a play at the plate as Michael Ewing reached third but his throw skipped past the catcher, allowing Dozier to score the fifth run of the inning for a 6-0 lead.