Baton Rouge: Southern Miss, LSU Flex Offensive MusclesColumns
• Southern Miss Flexes Muscles Against ASU • LSU’s Broussard Has Night To Remember
BATON ROUGE, La. — The magic isn’t close to running out for Southern Miss.
Scott Berry’s Golden Eagles entered the Conference USA tournament needing to go on an impressive run to earn an at-large bid to the postseason. Berry’s USM club didn’t want to leave anything to chance, so Matt Wallner, Gabe Shepard and others got themselves in gear and put together yet another amazing run through the tournament to win the league’s automatic bid.
That date with destiny didn’t end Friday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles flexed their muscles from a pitching standpoint in the early innings, only to have the offense follow suit with a 12-run fifth inning on the way to a dominant 15-3 win over hard-hitting Arizona State to begin the NCAA tournament.
With two teams of ASU and USM’s caliber from an offensive standpoint, we expected runs to be scored in this one. But for USM to go wild, and ASU’s offense get shutdown? Color us impressed with the wholesale performance by the Golden Eagles … especially Shepard.
“I am pleased with the way our guys showed up on a hot day to go out and compete. I think if you look at the body of work, you can’t help but notice the 12 runs there were scored in the fifth inning,” USM head coach Scott Berry said. “Gabe Shepard went back out and did what he had to do to keep the momentum with us. I am very proud of his outing today. That is three in a row where he has shown up and had consistent stuff to allow his team to win. Our team just feels really good when he’s out there.”
While the offensive explosion in the fifth was huge and an important story in this game, the start put together by Shepard, the freshman righty, was the biggest story considering he was pitching against one of the nation’s most potent offenses on a warm, humid day.
It was a challenging environment for Shepard, but he gained experience in this type of setting last week, when he struck out 12 in 7.1 shutout innings against Rice at the Conference USA tournament. Just a week before, Shepard had maxed out at five innings the week before at Troy, where he struck out nine in five shutout innings.
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