May 21, 2011
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss defeated the Rice baseball team 7-3 in the finale of the Conference USA weekend series Saturday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss. The same teams officially share the league's regular season title with identical 16-8 C-USA records, but the Owls are the No. 1 seed of the upcoming Championship Tournament beginning next week in Pearl, Miss.
Rice quickly opened the scoring in the top of the first inning. Anthony Rendon doubled to the left field corner and scored on a single to right by Michael Ratterree.
After two-out hits by Rendon and Ratterree in the top of the third, junior catcher Craig Manuel lined a base hit into right-center to plate Rendon and double the margin to 2-0. Rendon scored his 53rd run of the season in the team's 56th game.
Southern Miss fought back for a run in the fourth before a big four-run fifth. In the fourth, Adam Doleac singled with one out and scored from first on Isaac Rodriguez' double to left to make it 2-1
It was a similar sequence to tie the game in the fifth. Kameron Brunty singled and scored on Tyler Koelling's single to left. USM then took the lead after two more singles by B.A. Vollmuth and Marc Bourgeois made it 3-2. Rodriguez walked and a bases-loaded double by Mark Ellis scored two to stretch the lead to 5-2.
USM tallied two more in the sixth on one hit to make it 7-2. The big blow was a two-run triple to right by Ashley Graeter after a hit batsman and a walk.
Rice opportunistically scored its final run in the seventh. Keenan Cook reached on a two-base error and came home on a base hit by J.T. Chargois that made it 7-3. The Owls close out the regular season with a 38-18 overall record. Southern Miss is 38-15 on the year.
There is only a short break until the Owls return to action. Rice next plays at 2011 Conference USA Championship in Pearl, Miss., to begin on May 25. The Blue & Gray meet UAB at 12:30 pm at Trustmark Park, the minor league home of the Atlanta Braves' AA affiliate. Joining Rice (and UAB) in its pod of pool play is Memphis and UCF.