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Southern Miss caps off sweep of Arkansas State with 17-7 mercy rule win

Southern Miss catcher Blake Johnson hits a two-run home run against Arkansas State on Sunday (Aimee Cronan/The Gazebo Gazette)

Southern Miss was hitting the ball on all cylinders this weekend, capping off a sweep over Sun Belt opponent Arkansas State with a 17-7 mercy rule victory Sunday afternoon.

Southern Miss (28-15 overall, 14-7 SBC), who has now won six consecutive games, registered a season-high five home runs to go along with a season-best run total to close out the series.

Gulfport native Blake Johnson homered twice – the fourth time a Golden Eagle has had a multi-home run game this season – while Reece Ewing, Carson Paetow, and Matthew Etzel each went deep as Southern Miss tied a season-high for hits.

“Not sure if we’re playing harder or just getting better results, just being more selective and not getting ourselves out as much,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “Really just getting in hitters counts and taking advantage of these opportunities.”

The Red Wolves (15-25, 5-14) tied the score in the second with two more tallies, before the Golden Eagles went ahead for good with four more runs in the bottom of the stanza.

Paetow, a Vancleave native, finished with a team-high five RBI, knocking in his first with a double. He then scored one batter later when Johnson homered to left center before Dustin Dickerson ended the inning with an RBI infield single.

Paetow then helped build the lead to 12-4 in the fourth with a grand slam. It was Paetow’s fourth home run of the year and second grand slam by a Golden Eagle this season.

Isaiah Rhodes, the third of five Golden Eagle pitchers, earned the victory by throwing two shutout innings with two walks and four strikeouts. He improved to 3-2 on the year. Matthew Adams, who had not pitched since April 8, returned to the mound for 1 2/3 innings to start the game.

Friday afternoon, USM ace Tanner Hall struck out a career-high 15, and Slade Wilks drove in five runs to lead the Golden Eagles past the Red Wolves 12-1. On Saturday, Christopher Sargent collected two hits and drove in three runs in a 4-1 victory.

The Golden Eagles now find themselves back in second place in the Sun Belt behind No. 6 Coastal Carolina. USM will be back in action when they host Tulane on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

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