USM baseball sweeps Saturday doubleheader from Western Kentucky

Ben Ethridge, Southern Miss
Ben Ethridge, Southern Miss
Updated: Apr. 25, 2021 at 1:37 AM CDT
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From the University of Southern Mississippi Sports Information Department

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – A pair of long balls proved the difference in the opener while Ben Ethridge’s right arm rook care of business in the nightcap as the University of Southern Mississippi swept a Conference USA baseball doubleheader Saturday from Western Kentucky University at Pete Taylor Park.

Charlie Fischer’s two-run home run broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning and Christopher Sargent’s ensuring solo shot provided the eventual game-winning run as the Golden Eagles held on for a 6-5 victory in the first game of the twinbill.

Ethridge twirled a three-hit gem in the second game, striking out 11 in becoming the first Golden Eagle to go the distance in a complete-game shutout as USM blanked the Hilltoppers 3-0.

By claiming both of the seven-inning games, the Golden Eagles (26-12, 13-5 C-USA) not only clinched the four-game weekend series, but moved within a half-game of the West Division lead when frontrunner Louisiana Tech University dropped an 11-5 decision Saturday to Marshall University.

In the opening game, USM jumped out to a 3-0 advantage.

Andrew Stanley’s RBI-single in the second inning gave USM a 1-0 lead, and the Golden Eagles added a pair of runs in the third on run-scoring doubles by Fischer and Reece Ewing.

The Hilltoppers (18-21, 8-11) tied the game 3-3, scoring a run in the fourth inning on Kevin Lambert’s single and then adding two more in the fifth on a single by Richard Constantine and an USM throwing error.

But USM came back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Reed Trimble was hit by a pitch to open the inning, and Fischer clobbered an offering from WKU starter Sean Bergeron over the center-field wall for a 5-3 USM lead.

Sargent followed with his seventh homer of the year to center field.

The Hilltoppers got solo runs in the final two frames, including Constantine’s first home run of the season with one out in the seventh inning. But reliever Hurston Waldrep, who pitched the final two innings to pick up his first save of the season, got a strikeout and flyball to close the door.

USM starting pitcher Walker Powell (6-2) did enough to pick up the win, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out four.

Waldrep allowed two runs on three hits in two innings. He did not walk a better and struck out two.

Bergeron (2-5) allowed six runs on eight hits over five innings. He walked one and struck out three.

Matthew Myer, Ricardo Leonett, Ray Zuberer III and Constantine each had two hits for the Hilltoppers. Constantine finished with two RBIs.

In the second contest, Ethridge hit a batter to start the game, then struck out the next three Hilltoppers.

The freshman right-hander gave up an infield single in the second, then allowed another infield single and a base hit to left field in the third.

They didn’t know it at the time, but that was the high watermark for the Hilltoppers’ offense, as Ethridge set down in order the last 14 batters, whiffing six of the final 12 he faced

USM nicked WKU starter Devyn Terbrak (2-2) for three runs in the first inning to give Ethridge all the support he would need.

Gabe Montenegro doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch. After Fischer drew a one-out walk, Sargent singled to give USM a 1-0 lead.

After Ewing walked to load the bases, an errant pickoff throw down to third allowed Fisher to score, and Danny Lynch followed with a single to complete to cap the outburst.

Fischer, who had missed four game the previous week after injuring his left hand, went 3-for-6 with a walk Saturday, including a double and his sixth home run of the season. He drove in three runs and scored three times in the two games.

In the three games against WKU, Fischer is 4-of-8 with two walks.

Sargent went 4-of-6 in Saturday’s two games, with three runs scored and two RBIs.

The teams wrap up the series at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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