Mar 8, 2013 10:27 PM by UL Sports Information
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss built a six-run advantage over the first three innings and was guided by a complete game effort from Andrew Pierce to a 9-2 series opening victory over Louisiana here Friday evening at Pete Taylor Park.
The two teams continue their three-game series on Saturday at 2 p.m., with Louisiana (11-3) sending lefthander Cody Boutte (3-0, 5.17 ERA) to the mound to face USM lefty Jake Drehoff (1-0, 3.60 ERA). Steve Peloquin will call the action on News Talk Radio 96.5 FM.
Chase Traffica was charged with five runs in 1 1/3 innings of the Golden Eagles' early uprising. Kody Smith tossed 4 2/3 innings of relief, holding USM (7-6) in check until a three-spot in the sixth inning produced the final margin.
Pierce scattered eight hits in his distance-long effort. The senior righty notched 10 strikeouts and surrendered only one earned run.
Tyler Girouard and Ryan Wilson collected an RBI apiece to provide the Cajuns' offense. Seven of the Cajuns nine starters posted at least one base hit.
Louisiana was without the services of starting catcher and leading hitter Michael Strentz who suffered a hand injury on a hit by pitch in the Sacred Heart finale and is listed as day-to-day for the weekend.
Isaac Rodriguez and Tim Lynch each tallied two RBI to pace the USM offense. Dillon Day and Michael Sterling each scored two runs.
Friday's contest was Louisiana's first road game of the 2013 season. The Cajuns opened the season with a 13-game homestand that concluded last Sunday vs. Sacred Heart.
Dex Kjerstad led off the game with a double, but the Cajuns were unable to score after a Jace Conrad sacrifice bunt as two fly ball outs helped Pierce escape unscathed.
The Golden Eagles' leadoff hitter reached each of the first three innings and that served as the catalyst in helping the hosts produce a combined six runs in their first three at bats.
USM benefitted from a wild pitch that resulted in a run scored and moved a runner from first to third base prior to a Lynch RBI single for a 2-0 lead after one complete.
Back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the second inning helped USM keep the pressure on the Cajuns. Traffica fielded a Dillon Day sacrifice bunt attempt and elected to go for the force out at third base, but his throw was out of Girouard's reach allowing a run to score.
The error placed runners at second and third base, and then a groundout and RBI double from Rodriguez plated two more Golden Eagles runs for a 5-0 advantage. Traffica was replaced by Smith marking his shortest outing of the season.
A leadoff double by Mason Robbins and subsequent single from Bradley Roney gave USM a 6-0 lead two batters into the bottom of the third inning.
Smith was able to catch Roney attempting to steal second base then induced a groundout from Austin Roussel for two quick outs. The lefty then retired the Golden Eagles in order in the fourth and fifth inning to keep the Cajuns within striking distance.
Wilson and Girouard picked up RBI singles in the fifth and sixth inning, respectively, as the Cajuns trimmed the USM lead to 6-2.
USM tacked on three runs off three hits in the bottom of the sixth to solve Smith's stranglehold and increase the lead to 9-2.