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USM Drops Series to C-USA Leader, Rice

Taylor Braley had two hits and two RBI’s at the game against Rice this weekend. The Eagles lost two out of the three games. -Courtesy photo/Joe Harper

Southern Miss failed to make up ground in the Conference USA standings against current frontrunner Rice, losing two of three to the Owls in the weekend series.

Golden Eagle starter Cody Carroll got roughed by the Owls’ offense, allowing six runs on five hits and three walks in four innings of work.

Rice got on the board first in the bottom of the first with a Leon Byrd sacrifice fly and a RBI single by designated hitter Kirby Taylor. Carroll struggled with his command throughout his start; he left too many pitches over the heart of the plate and failed to command the strike zone.

The Golden Eagles answered with three runs in the fourth on five hits. Matt Durst led off with a single and advanced to second base on a Tim Lynch groundout. Dylan Burdeaux brought Durst home with a double to left center to get USM on the board.

Catcher Chuckie Robinson followed with an RBI single to right field to tie the game up at two apiece. After advancing to second on Michael Sterling single, Robinson came home on a Nick Dawson single to left center to give USM the lead.

The lead did not last long as Tristian Gray and Connor Tekyl each had an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning, regaining the lead for Rice. The Owls added onto the lead with two more runs off Carroll in the fifth before he could record an out.

Neither offense could muster anything else as Rice’s 6-3 lead held firm as the Owls captured game one of the series.

Game two was seemingly over before it ever got started. The Owls hung up 10 runs on the Golden Eagles in the bottom of the first, tagging USM starter Christian Talley for eight runs, four earned, and two more on Kirk McCarty. Talley only recorded two outs in what was a forgettable start for the right-hander.

The offensive onslaught was highlighted by a Charlie Warren two-run home run and two RBI doubles by Byrd. The game never was close as the Owls went on to win 11-4 in impressive fashion.

Taylor Braley had two hits and two RBI’s while Sterling had three hits from the leadoff spot for the Golden Eagles, but it was not nearly enough.

USM finally got a quality performance in game three from James McMahon who was pegged as a question mark as the No. 3 starter before the season, but is now 5-0 on the season. McMahon threw 7.1 scoreless innings, struck out three and induced 11 groundouts.

Sterling led off the game with an infield single before being brought home on an RBI triple by Burdeaux. Durst followed Burdeaux with an RBI single to give USM the early 2-0 lead.

The Golden Eagles used a small ball approach in the top of the fifth inning to increase its lead to four. USM loaded the bases with a strike out that Austin Roussel reached on as the ball made its way to the backstop, two bunts and a walk.

Then Burdeaux and Durst both picked up their second RBI of the game with an infield single and a sacrifice fly, respectively. Roussel singled in Chase Scott in the sixth to stretch the lead to 5-0.

Rice picked up their first run in the bottom of the ninth off USM closer Ryan Milton, but could not do any more damage as Cody Livingston came in and shut the door after relieving Milton with the bases loaded and only one out.

The 5-1 win kept the Golden Eagles from being swept, but they will need to be more consistent moving forward with hopes of reaching an NCAA Regional.

USM (15-10-1, 4-4 C-USA) will host UAB in a three game series, beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. It should be interesting to see if USM manager Scott Berry changes his rotation as his usual ace, Talley, has struggled and McMahon is flourishing.

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USM Drops Series to C-USA Leader, Rice