HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Jordan Stephens and Zech Lemond limited Southern Miss to four hits as the visiting Rice Owls collected a 3-0 Conference USA baseball victory over the Golden Eagles here Saturday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
The Golden Eagles were shutout for the first time since dropping a 3-0 decision to Ole Miss on May 1, 2012, at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
Stephens limited Southern Miss (9-13, 1-1 C-USA) to just four hits and walked just one with seven strikeouts over seven innings to get the victory and improve to 3-2. Lemond then retired all six batters he faced, including a strikeout, to get his fifth save of the year.
The Owls (17-8, 1-1) got solo runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings for the game's only runs. Michael Ratterree knocked in the game's first run with an RBI single, before Leon Byrd added a run-scoring fielder's choice before Geoff Perrott completed the visitor's scoring with a run-scoring single.
Connor Barron collected USM's lone extra-base hit with a two-out triple in the fifth, but Michael Sterling lined out to Connor Tekyl at third to end the scoring threat. The Golden Eagles also got singles from Mason Robbins, Isaac Rodriguez and Chase Fowler.
Robbins, who made his first start on the mound since March 12, allowed two runs on five hits with two walks and one strikeout to suffer the loss to fall to 1-3. Golden Eagle reliever Jay Myrick threw the final five frames and limited the Owls to a run on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
The game started three hours prior to its originally scheduled time due to expected rainy weather and the contest endured a 33-minute rain delay in the bottom of the third.
The deciding game of the series is set for 1 p.m., Sunday at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.