March 31, 2018
Box Score pdf
Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – No. 14 ranked Southern Miss rallied for five unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and pushed across the go-ahead score in the 12th, for an 8-7 extra-inning win over the visiting Rice baseball team in the second game of a Conference USA weekend series Saturday afternoon in Hattiesburg, Miss.
C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Matt Wallner delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th to clinch the weekend series for Southern Miss. The trouble for Rice began back in the ninth when the Owls made two costly fielding errors to keep a USM rally alive. There were two times when the Owls needed only a single strike to end the game and level the series, but the Golden Eagles made the most of the errors to send the contest into extra frames.
It was nip and tuck with both teams playing well in the early-going. Southern Miss struck for the first run of the game. Back-to-back singles in the bottom of the second inning put runners on the corners. Bryant Bowen's sacrifice fly put the Golden Eagles in front 1-0.
Rice tied the game in the fourth. Andrew Dunlap led off with a double down the left field line and he scored on a RBI single to right by Chace Sarchet.
USM broke the deadlock in the fifth. LeeMarcus Boyd knocked a two-out solo home run after the Owls looked to be avoiding trouble by turning a clutch round-the-horn double-play.
Up 2-1 the Golden Eagles appeared to be threatening for more with a base hit, and then a two-base Rice throwing error put a man on third with no outs in the bottom of the bottom of the sixth. Three-straight strikeouts by three different Owl pitchers in the inning, however, steered the Blue & Gray out of danger.
The defensive hold also seemed to give the Rice offense a much-needed emotional lift in the top of the eighth. The Owls proceeded to post a big six-run, two-out rally to take a 7-2 lead. Six players in row reached base, including five by base hits. The Blue & Gray was now up 7-2 and only needed six more outs to end the game.
Sophomore right-hander Roel Garcia started on the mound for Rice and was steady in matching the longest outings of his career with 6.1 innings of work. On the offensive side four Owls finished the day with two hits and seven different players in the starting lineup got on base and scored runs.
Rice is now 11-18 on the season and 1-7 in C-USA league play. Southern Miss improved to 19-6 overall and 6-1 in conference.
The three-game weekend series concludes Sunday. First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1 pm at USM's Pete Taylor Park.