HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss got great starting pitching, collected double-digit hits an did not commit an error as they opened Conference USA play with a 10-1 victory over nationally ranked Rice here Friday night.
The Golden Eagles improved to 9-12, while Rice fell to 16-8. Game two of the series has been moved up to 11 a.m., from its original 2 p.m., start time due to rainy weather expected in the area during the afternoon hours.
"We pretty much played well in all phases of the game, and when you do that consistently, you'll win consistently," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "Very proud of the way they played."
Andrew Pierce limited the No. 24-ranked Owls (by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) to a run on seven hits over seven innings with a walk and four strikeouts to earn the victory and improve to 5-1 on the season.
Offensively, Chase Fowler, Isaac Rodriguez and Nick Dawson each drove in three runs as the Golden Eagles collected 10 hits for the contest, their second-straight game of registering double-digit hits. Fowler and Mason Roberts each collected two hits for the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles also did not commit an error in 37 fielding chances against the Owls, marking the seventh time this season USM had not committed an error. Southern Miss (9-12, 1-0) jumped out with three runs in the second. After a leadoff walk to Tim Lynch and two outs, Fowler drove home two runs with a double to leftfield that drifted away from the Rice leftfielder Keenan Cook. Dawson followed Fowler with an RBI single to left to give USM the early 3-0 advantage.
The game was then put out of reach in the sixth when the Golden Eagles plated six more runs. Fowler reached an infield error to knock in a run with the bases loaded before Dawson drove in a run with a hit by pitch and Robbins knocked in a run with a walk. Rodriguez then finished the scoring with a bases-clearing double to make the score 9-1, after Rice had tallied its lone run in the fifth on an RBI single by Leon Byrd.
The Golden Eagles added its last run on a groundout by Dawson in the seventh. Rice starter Austin Kubitza, who had only allowed three runs in his five starts, surrendered eight runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts to fall to 3-1.