BILOXI, Miss. – Freshman lefty Austin Bollinger tossed a career-high 4.1 scoreless relief innings but the damage was done early as the Nicholls State University baseball program dropped a 16-8 decision to Southern Miss Tuesday night at MGM Park.
Bollinger allowed just one hit, retiring 13 of the 14 batters he faced. The Houma, Louisiana, native whiffed three batters, matching a career high.
The Golden Eagles (29-9) commenced the bottom of the first inning with six straight singles en route to five runs.
After junior starter Cayden Hatcher worked around two singles in the second, the Colonels (20-19) responded with a three-run third inning.
Senior designated hitter Juan Givan started the rally with a single up the middle that whizzed by USM starter Alex Nelms. Sophomore second baseman Ethan Valdez then reached on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Nelms’ wild throw skidded beyond the reach of first baseman Dylan Burdeaux, putting runners on second and third.
Junior outfielder Chet Niehaus then pulled his ninth double of the season near the right-field line, scoring Givan and Valdez. Niehaus was later plated on a one-out single through the right side from junior first baseman Kyle Knauth.
The Golden Eagles countered with 10 runs in the next half inning. The nine-hit barrage was highlighted by a three-RBI triple by Mason Irby and back-to-back doubles from Matthew Guidry and LeeMarcus Boyd.
Nicholls outscored the USM 5-1 in the final six innings of play.
Morales cranked a two-out, two-RBI double to the left-center field gap in the fourth and scored on a Knauth single through the right side, shortening the deficit to 15-6.
The Colonels earned a run in the fifth on an error by the left fielder and another in the eighth on a solo homer to left off the bat of Valdez.
Nicholls collected 13 hits, marking the 17th occurrence this season with at least 10 hits and the 12th with 12-plus.
Seniors Juan Givan and Alex Tucker and juniors Gavin Wehby and Knauth all earned multiple hits.
USM accumulated a season-high 20 hits which included eight players with at least two.
Hatcher (3-4) took the loss after allowing seven earned runs in two innings.
USM reliever Hunter Stevens picked up his first win of the season as the pitcher of record. He threw 2.1 innings and allowed one unearned run.
The Colonels return to action in a Southland Conference series this weekend against Southeastern Louisiana. Friday and Sunday’s games will be played at the Did, and Saturday’s contest will take place in Hammond.