HATTIESBURG, Miss. —Southern Miss built a six-run advantage over the first three innings Friday and got a complete game from Andrew Pierce in a 9-2 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette at Pete Taylor Park.
The series resumes at 2 p.m. Saturday. Louisiana-Lafayette (11-3) will start left-hander Cody Boutte (3-0, 5.17).
The Eagles will counter with left-hander Jake Drehoff (1-0, 3.60). Southern Miss roughed up ULL starter Chase Traffica on Wednesday, scoring five runs in 1.1 innings.
Kody Smith tossed 4.2 innings in relief, holding the Eagles (7-6) in check until they scored three more runs in the sixth inning.
Pierce scattered eight hits. The senior right-hander had 10 strikeouts and surrendered only one earned run.
Tyler Girouard and Ryan Wilson each collected an RBI for the Cajuns, and seven hitters in the starting lineup got at least one base hit. But ULL never produced the big rally it needed.
The Cajuns were without starting catcher and leading hitter Michael Strentz, who suffered a hand injury during an at-bat against Sacred Heart on Sunday. He is day-to-day.
Isaac Rodriguez and Tim Lynch each had two RBIs to lead the Southern Miss offense. Dillon Day and Michael Sterling each scored two runs.
Friday marked ULL’s first road game this season.
Dex Kjerstad led off the game with a double, but the Cajuns failed to score after a Jace Conrad sacrifice bunt. Two flyball outs helped Pierce get out of the inning.
The Eagles’ leadoff hitter reached safely in each of the first three innings, and that helped Southern Miss score six runs in their first three at-bats.
USM benefitted from a wild pitch that scored a run and moved a runner from first to third base. Lynch followed with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
Back-to-back in the bottom of the second inning helped Southern Miss keep the pressure on the Cajuns.
Traffica fielded a Day sacrifice bunt attempt and tried 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.