HATTIESBURG, Miss. - A pair of UCF walks and three errors along with eight strong innings from Jake Drehoff enabled Southern Miss to take the opening game of the Conference USA series, 4-1, over the Knight here Thursday night at Jay Bergman Field.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Golden Eagles (10-15 overall, 2-2 C-USA), while UCF fell to 17-10 and 3-1.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the eighth, Isaac Rodriguez collected a one-out single off the calf of UCF starter Ben Lively. Mason Robbins, who led the Eagles with two of their four hits, singled Rodriguez to third.
The Knights then went to the pen for Zac Favre and Tim Lynch hit one back to the pitcher who misplayed the ball and allowed Rodriguez to score the go-ahead run.
Southern Miss extended their lead with two more runs in the ninth. Travis Creel drew a one-out walk, before Dillon Day flew out. Connor Barron then forced a walk on a 13-pitch at bat against Favre and Rodriguez was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.
UCF tried another reliever and Jimmy Reed delivered bases-loaded walks to Robbins and Lynch to provide the final scoring in the contest.
Drehoff started slowly by giving up an unearned run in the first but shutout the Knights over his final seven innings. He finished his night by giving up just four hits and two walks with a season-high tying six strikeouts to get the victory and improve to 1-3 on the season.
The sophomore from Alpahretta, Ga., has now thrown 15 innings without allowing an earned run, after throwing seven shutout frames against Auburn on March 20.
The Knights grabbed that early lead as Jomarcus Woods, who reached on a fielding error to start the frame, scored on a two-out double down the rightfield line from Chris Taladay.
An error by UCF in the fourth allowed the Golden Eagles to tie the score at 1-1. With two outs and Blake Brown at second base - he reached on a fielder's choice and stole second - Chase Fowler hit a routine ground ball to second which Austin Johnston threw wild to first and Brown scored on the play.
Lively (5-2), who surrendered two unearned runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings, suffered the loss.
Game two of the series will take place Friday at 5:30 p.m. Senior right-handed pitcher Andrew Pierce (5-1, 1.81 ERA) will face UCF lefthander Chris Matulis (2-0, 3.71 ERA) in the contest.