HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Tanner Hall fanned 12 batters and scattered three hits through 8.0 innings on the mound and Matthew Etzel broke up a scoreless game in the fifth inning with a grand slam to lead No. 23-ranked Southern Miss to a 4-0 win over Louisiana in the opening game of a Sun Belt Conference series on Thursday at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
The second game of the three-game series resumes on Friday at 6 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ with fans able to listen to the game in the Lafayette area on KPEL-FM (96.5) and worldwide on the Varsity Network app.
Louisiana (35-19, 17-11 SBC), which was shut out on the road for the first time since a 1-0 setback to USM (36-15, 21-7 SBC) on March 13, 2021, got a leadoff double from Conor Higgs in the second inning before Hall (11-3) retired the next 16 batters he faced while limiting the Ragin’ Cajuns to their fewest hits of the season.
Southern Miss, which moved one-half game ahead of Coastal Carolina for the SBC lead, broke the scoreless battle in the fifth after Reece Ewing led off the inning with a single and moved to second on Nick Monistere’s infield single to third.
After Carson Paetow reached on a fielder’s choice and Rodrigo Montenegro drew a walk to load the bases, Etzel hit the first pitch from Louisiana starter Jackson Nezuh (8-5) over the right-field fence for the Golden Eagles’ fourth grand slam of the season.
Carson Roccaforte and John Taylor reached on back-to-back singles off Hall in the eighth inning, but the right-hander got a grounder to second and strikeout to snuff out Louisiana’s biggest threat of the game.
Nezuh matched Hall for the first part of the game, tossing 6.1 innings with six hits allowed and five strikeouts. Steven Cash struck out a pair in a scoreless inning of relief for the Ragin’ Cajuns while Jerry Couch closed out with 0.2 innings of hitless relief.
Etzel and Monistere had two hits each for Southern Miss, which won its 14th straight game, while Justin Storm pitched a scoreless ninth with a strikeout.
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