Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (email@example.com)
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Southern Miss rallied for the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim a 2-1 Conference USA win over the Rice baseball team Sunday afternoon in Hattiesburg, Miss.
The Golden Eagles won the three-game series 2-1 to break the C-USA deadlock with the Owls and move into sole possession of first place in the league standings with a 14-4 league record. Rice is now 13-5 in conference action. Florida Atlantic is in third place, one game behind the Blue & Gray at 12-6 at the end of Sunday's games.
The series that featured three one-run games, and where no outcome ever seemed to be completely in-hand until securing the final out, came down to the bottom of the ninth Sunday. With the score 1-1 in the ninth, the Golden Eagles' Hunter Slater drew a leadoff walk and took second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third on a sacrifice and scored on Daniel Keating's base hit to shallow right that was the team's fifth hit of the day.
Southern Miss opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. Catcher Chuckie Robinson homered to left with two away for a 1-0 lead.
With seven hits and a pair of walks through the first six innings Rice had plenty of baserunners and chances to help themselves. The Owls were not able to come up with the big hit, however, and left eight men on base through the first six frames.
USM turned two with two Owls on-base in the eighth, but Rice still had a pinch-runner Charlie Warren reach third on the double-play. Down 1-0 and with just four outs to work with, senior Grayson Lewis followed with a clutch base hit through the right side to get the Owls on the board and tie the score, 1-1.
Rice finished the day with ten hits, but was 3-of-16 when batting with men on base and 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Owl sophomore Ricardo Salinas made his tenth start on the mound and worked into the eighth inning. He scattered four hits and three walks while striking out four. Austin Solecitto and Glenn Otto saw action out of the bullpen.
Rice, now 25-13 overall, has concluded its three-game weekend road swing and next begins a four-game homestand starting on April 29. The Owls host Charlotte in a C-USA weekend series beginning at 6:30 pm Friday night at Reckling Park.