Golden Eagles walk the plank

Published 12:18 am Saturday, May 28, 2011

PEARL — Coming into Friday’s finale at the Conference USA Tournament, Southern Miss knew it would be tough to put a lot of runs on the board against Seth Maness.

As it turned out, the East Carolina ace made it almost impossible.

Maness struck out nine and walked one in a three-hit shutout, and Philip Clark went 3-for-5 with two RBIs as East Carolina beat Southern Miss 4-0 at Trustmark Park.

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“He (Maness) had everything working,” East Carolina coach Billy Godwin said. “What a great way to come in here, against a great Southern Miss club, and finish his Conference USA career.”


C-USA Tourney


Memphis 5, UAB 4

Rice 4, Central Florida 2

Tulane 7, Houston 1

East Carolina 4, USM 0


Championship game

Houston vs. Rice, 7 p.m.


The loss capped a disappointing showing at the C-USA Tournament for Southern Miss (39-17). It lost two of three, including a 14-inning heartbreaker to Houston on Thursday night, and did not score a run in its last 15 innings. In all, Southern Miss scored a total of 13 runs in three tournament games, but was held scoreless in 27 of 31 innings in which it batted.

“Offensively, we’re struggling here late in the year, in all honesty. I think that’s the second time we’ve been shut out since 2008, and it’s the second time in about two weeks,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “We’ve got to get some things going. We’re going to approach the next week as a whole new season.”

Maness had a lot to do with USM’s offensive woes on Friday. The senior right-hander ran his record to 9-3 with a dominating performance and some outstanding defensive work behind him. Maness retired eight in a row to start the game and 15 of the last 17.

The only time he got into serious trouble was the fourth inning, when Ashley Graeter led off with a single and B.A. Vollmuth reached on an error. Maness got out of the jam with a fielder’s choice and a double play ball and only allowed one hit and one walk the rest of the way.

“You’ve got to give Maness a lot of credit. He hit all his spots tonight and his off-speed was working really well. At the plate, I wasn’t too tired. His stuff was just really good tonight,” said USM outfielder Kameron Brunty, who went 0-for-4. “He was spotting up his fastball really well on the corners and his change up was just working. His slider was on point.”

Southern Miss starter Josh Thomason was effective in only his third start of the season. He allowed 10 hits, but didn’t walk anyone, worked out of a steady stream of trouble and held the Pirates to three runs in seven innings.

East Carolina broke through with two runs in the fifth, though, when Clark doubled in a run and scored on a base hit by Corey Thompson. With the way Maness was pitching, that was plenty.

Clark drove in another run with an RBI single in the seventh inning, and the Pirates added one in the eighth to add the finishing touches.

“We did some great situational hitting,” Godwin said. “The hit-and-run kind of set the table with Clark and (Mike) Ussery. We did a good job. I’m proud of the way our guys swung the bats.”