USM loses on walk-off
A day after a pair of late game heroics earned them a spot in the Conference USA title game, the Southern Mississippi baseball team fell on the wrong side of a clutch game winning hit.
The Golden Eagles fell to Rice in the C-USA title game Sunday when the Owls’ ceterfielder Ryan Chandler hit a walk-off double to left field.
The hit scored Kendal Jefferies, who pinch ran for teammate Andrew Dunlap after Dunlap singled to start the inning.
Jefferies advanced to second on a sac-bunt before coming around to score.
Southern Miss (48-14) and Rice (31-29) entered the ninth inning tied at 4-4, and with two outs in the ninth the Golden Eagles looked like they were going to take a late lead off the bat of Saturday’s game one hero Taylor Braley.
Brayley kept the Golden Eagles’ season alive in game one against Charlotte Saturday with a walk-off homerun to force a decisive game two.
In Sunday’s championship game, Brayley sent a long fly ball to left field with two outs in the ninth that fell a foot short of the wall.
Southern Miss took an early 1-0 lead in the Championship game in the third inning when Matthew Guidry scored on a Rice throwing error.
Guidry walked to lead off the inning before coming around to score.
The Golden Eagles added to their total in the fourth inning solo homerun to right center off the bat of freshman Matt Wallner.
The game was forced to pause in the middle of the fourth inning due to a rain delay, and when play resumed Rice found its bats scoring two runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie that game at 2-2.
Chandler opened the inning with a triple to right center and came around to score a batter later when Ford Proctor singled to right.
Proctor came across to score the second run of the inning.
Southern Miss retook the lead with two runs in the top of the fifth and held onto the advantage until Rice tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh.
Guidry scored his second run of the game following a single to center field to lead off the fifth. He advanced to second on a sac-bunt before taking third on a Rice throwing error.
LeeMarcus Boyd scored the Golden Eagles final run of the game when he came across to score on a Mason Irby double to left field.
An error and two wild pitches in the seventh inning enabled the Owls to bounce back from a two run defecit to tie the game for the second the second time.
Southern Miss used five pitchers in the game. The loss was charged to Trent Driver who pitched 1.2 innings allowing two hits and the game winning run.
He was pulled before the final at-bat and Matt Wallner surrendered the game winning hit to the only batter he faced. The run was charged to Driver though.
Irby led the way at the plate for USM going 3-4 with a walk and an RBI in the loss.
The Rice win clinched an automatic berth in the NCAA baseball tournament as the C-USA Champion.
The Golden Eagles had already locked up at least an at-large bid based on their performance throughout the season.
The regional hosting sites for the tournament were announced Sunday evening, the full field will be reveled Monday live on ESPN2.