A 12-0 loss to Tulane on April 19 followed a tough 2-1 series loss to the University of Alabama at Birmingham that began on April 15. Last weekend, Southern Miss succeeded in efforts to regain composure in a three- game series against No. 24 Rice, winning the series, 2-1.
The Golden Eagles have not notched a series win against the Owls since 2008 prior to this weekend’s affairs.
Game one fared well for Southern Miss as the team recorded two runs off of six hits, eight strikeouts and won with a score of 2-1.
Senior Cord Cockrell earned his seventh win of the season, preserving his flawless record, 7-0. In the five innings pitched, Cockrell recorded six strikeouts and gave up one run off of four hits.
“We knew it would be a low- scoring game,” head coach Scott Berry said. “We only scored two runs, but our pitching was phenomenal.”
In addition to Cockrell, Southern Miss counted on four relief pitchers, including Luke Lowery, Jake Winston, Cody Livingston and Nick Sandlin, for the win. The four combined to give up no runs, two hits and two strikeouts. Sandlin gave up a triple in the top of the ninth inning, but only needed three more pitches to end the inning and earn the save.
Unlike game one, game two was driven for both sides by offense.
With 4,950 people in attendance, Saturday’s game marked Pete Taylor Park’s
record largest to watch C-USA play.
Rice would score first in the top of the third inning. After Dayne Wunderlich singled, Ryan Chandler homered to give the Owls a 2-0 lead. Southern Miss did not let the two runs affect its swing as Jake Sandlin delivered the second solo home run of the season in the bottom of the third to cut into deficit, 2-1.
A scoreless inning would follow for Rice, but not for Southern Miss. After a walk, Chuckie Robinson singled with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Striking a scintilla of fear in the Owl’s pitcher, Blake Fox, the Golden Eagles took another walk. As Fox faced a bases loaded situation, Dawson stepped into the box to deliver a single through left field and bring home two runners to give the Golden Eagles their first lead of the night, 3-2.
The productive inning for the Golden Eagles would be the last. In the five innings following the fourth, Southern Miss only amassed two hits. Rice took advantage of the Golden Eagles’ struggles as they scored a run in each of the sixth and eighth inning to solidify the win, 4-3.
“This one’s tough, tough to swallow because we felt like we had a chance to win this one and we didn’t,” Berry said. “Championships are always won on Sunday.”
Sunday’s contest proved to be that crucial day for Southern Miss.
Robinson garnered the first run for Southern Miss with his third home run of the season in the bottom of the second inning.
Robinson’s home run would be the only run for either side for the next six innings. Rice ended the scoring drought in the top of the eighth inning. After two singles and a double play, Grayson Lewis delivered an RBI single to tie the ball game 1-1 in its closing moments.
With the ball game tied in the bottom of the ninth inning, Southern Miss was looking for that one play that would break the tie. After an early walk, a wild pitch and a sac bunt from the Golden Eagles, Berry decided to pinch-hit Daniel Keating for J.C Keys with a runner on third base.
That decision proved to be valuable as Keating delivered the Golden Eagles second walk off hit of the season and gave the Golden Eagles a much needed win, 2-1.
Southern Miss looks to improve their record Tuesday at home against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.