HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss strengthened its hold on first place of Conference USA with a 21-6 and 5-4 doubleheader baseball sweep of UAB here Saturday at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
The Golden Eagles, 24-19 overall and 13-5 in league play, hold a 2 ½ game lead in the standings on both Rice and UCF who are next in the C-USA race.
"It was a great series," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "We needed to come for a sweep. That's always hard to do that, but that was our goal coming into this. "The way that we've been playing, and trying to gain ground from the way we didn't play in the first part of the season, this was huge to be able to get three wins this weekend."
In the first game, the Golden Eagles hit four home runs and Travis Creel tied a school record as the Golden Eagles defeated the Blazers (17-28, 3-12) in seven innings due the league's run rule while the squad collected season highs for both runs and hits (24).
Blake Brown hit a grand slam in a five-run first for the Golden Eagles - it was his second grand slam he had hit in as many at bats as he also registered one in his final plate appearance on Friday night - to notch his sixth of the season.
Southern Miss added five more runs in the second and then Mason Robbins made it 13-0 in the third with a three-run shot, his second, to right as he drove in five runs for the contest.
After UAB got three run innings in both the fifth and seventh frames, the Golden Eagles closed out the game with an eight-run seventh as Roney, who drove in five runs, collected a three-run homer, his second, and Dillon Day added a two-run shot, his first since the 2010 season and also drove in four runs. The game ended on a sacrifice fly by Isaac Rodriguez.
Travis Creel, who reached on nine consecutive plate appearances stretching from Friday night to his second at bat of the second game of the twinbill, tied a school record with six hits in the first game and also drove in two runs.
Andrew Pierce (9-1) went 6 2/3 innings to get the victory in the opener allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
UAB starter Sam Kelley (3-5) suffered the loss by giving up 13 runs on 14 hits with two walks and two strikeouts over five innings to suffer the loss.
In the nightcap, Rodriguez and Day each had two hits for the Golden Eagles. USM tallied a run in the first on a Rodriguez double. After UAB tied it in the top of the second, Southern Miss took the lead for good with two runs in the fourth on a RBI ground out by Tim Lynch and a RBI from Chase Fowler who reached on an infield fielding error.
Southern Miss extended the lead to 4-1 in the fifth on a RBI double from Robbins and then finished the team's scoring in the seventh on a RBI double from Austin Roussel.
UAB got three runs in the eighth to make the game close down the stretch.
Conor Fisk tied a team season-high for strikeouts with 11 over seven innings and gave up just a run on six hits with two walks to earn the victory and improve to 4-1. Bradley Roney worked around two singles in the ninth to capture his seventh save. Blazer starter James Naile gave up four runs on seven hits with a walk and a strikeout to take the loss and fall to 4-4.
USM returns to action when they entertain ULM Tuesday at Pete Taylor Park. Game time is set for 6 p.m.