Golden Eagles cook Rice in finale

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 27, 2012

PEARL — A great at-bat by Southern Miss’ Blake Brown helped lead the Golden Eagles to a season-ending win.

Brown drew a bases-loaded walk with two out in the seventh inning to force in the go-ahead run in Southern Miss’ 4-2 win over Rice in the final pod game of the Conference USA Baseball Tournament Saturday at Trustmark Park.

Southern Miss, which is expected to miss next week’s NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years, ends its season at 32-24. Rice (40-17) is expected to get an at-large bid. Memphis and UAB will battle for the C-USA championship today at 1 p.m.

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Brown fouled off four nasty pitches from Rice reliever Tyler Guffey in the bottom of the seventh inning. On a 2-2, he got a friendly call for a ball. Then on the payoff pitch, he got a low pitch called for ball four. The bases-loaded walk scored Dillon Day to break a 2-all tie.

“Duffey is one of their best relievers and he had struck out 13 of the last 17 guys he’s faced with those sliders,” Brown said. “I just tried to hang in there and push through it.”

After drawing the walk for a 3-2 lead, Bradley Roney followed with a hard-hit single into left to plate Michael Sterling to make it 4-2.

Southern Miss reliever Cody Livingston got the Golden Eagles out of the eighth inning despite two well-hit balls and an amazing bare-handed grab and throwout by Roney at third base.

Livingston had a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn the save.

“With two innings of work, I was really warmed up,” Livingston said. “It was good to end on a positive note.”

That’s the mantra Southern Miss coach Scott Berry wants his team to focus on.

“It’s kind of odd to end on a win, but that’s it how goes,” Berry said. “We played a great baseball game and hopefully, this give us momentum for next year.

Sterling and Ashley Graeter had two hits each to pace Southern Miss. Rice got two hits from J.T. Chargois.

Southern Miss trailed for most of the game, falling behind 1-0 after Rice’s first turn at-bat.

The Golden Eagles broke through in the fifth inning with a two-out rally and starting pitcher Mason Robbins was the key. Day got on by getting hit by a pitch from Rice’s ace starter, Matthew Reckling. Day advanced to second when a pickoff play failed. That opened the door for Sterling, whose singled scored Day to tie the game at 1.

Two batters later, Robbins doubled to right field to score Sterling for a 2-1 lead.

Rice came back to tie it at 2 when Chargois singled to left to score Christian Stringer, who had reached on an errant throw from short. The hit finished Robbins’ night.

The freshman struck out five in 51⁄3 innings of work and allowed just three hits.