Conference USA Baseball Tournament Headquarters

Magic at the Pete is a real thing. The Golden Eagles went 28-4 in games played at home this season, and 4-0 in the Conference USA Baseball Tournament.

Game 1: No. 4 Rice 13, No. 5 Louisiana Tech 12

Game 2: No. 1 Florida Atlantic 7, No. 8 Charlotte 5

Game 3: No. 3 Southern Miss 17, No. 6 Old Dominion 5 (7 innings)

Game 4: No. 2 Marshall 5, No. 7 Florida International 3

Game 5: No. 5 Louisiana Tech 13, No. 8 Charlotte 3 (8 innings)

*No. 8 Charlotte eliminated

Game 6: No. 7 Florida International 3, No. 6 Old Dominion 1 (11 innings)

*No. 6 Old Dominion eliminated

Game 7: No. 4 Rice 6, No. 1 Florida Atlantic 4 (10 innings)

Game 8: No. 3 Southern Miss 9, No. Marshall 3

Game 9: No. 5 Louisiana Tech 5, No. 1 Florida Atlantic 4 (10 innings)

*No. 1 Florida Atlantic eliminated

Game 10: No. 2 Marshall 7, No. 7 Florida International 6

*No. 7 Florida International eliminated

Game 11: No. 5 Louisiana Tech 13, No. 4 Rice 10

Game 12: No. 3 Southern Miss 3, No. Marshall 2

*No. 2 Marshall eliminated

Game 13: No. 4 Rice 11, No. 5 Louisiana Tech 9

*No. 5 Louisiana Tech eliminated

Game 14: No. 3 Southern Miss vs. Marshall (7:30 p.m. Saturday)

**If necessary

Game 15: No. 3 Southern Miss 3, No. 4 Rice 2

*No. 3 Southern Miss wins the Conference USA Baseball Tournament Championship

The following is an official press release courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.

Southern Miss Captures 2016 C-USA Tournament Title with 3-2 Win Over Rice Sunday

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – With three games each decided by single runs during the regular season, Sunday’s 2016 Conference USA Baseball Championship title game between nationally-ranked Southern Miss and Rice was expected to be another down-to-the-wire finish.

As it turned out, it was exactly that, as the game ended when the third-seeded Golden Eagles cut down what would have been the game-tying run at home plate to preserve a 3-2 victory over the fourth-seeded Owls before 3,519 at sweltering Pete Taylor Park.

“If this was my last game to ever play here, I couldn’t ask for a better game, that’s for sure,” said senior first baseman Tim Lynch, who was third in a four-man, relay-play chain that caught Rice second baseman Grayson Lewis for the final out.

Lynch and the rest of the Golden Eagles would find out Sunday evening whether the afternoon’s championship would be the final scene in Hattiesburg.

Southern Miss (40-18) earned a NCAA Regional spot for the first time in four years by winning its third C-USA crown and first since 2010. The win also gave the Golden Eagles 40 wins in a season for the first time since 2009 as they improved to a program-record 28-4 at home.

And home in Hattiesburg hosting one of those 16, four-team regionals is where Southern Miss coach Scott Berry insisted the 20th-ranked Golden Eagles should be.

“There’s no doubt we deserve to host,” Berry said shortly sharing some emotional moments with his team and receiving a PowerAde bath in the middle of his postgame radio interview. “Why wouldn’t we? We’re the fifth RPI league in the country. We just won the conference tournament. We’re playing well at the end. I think everything that they want, we can give. There’s no doubt.”

What was in doubt Sunday afternoon was how Southern Miss’ meeting with No. 24 Rice (35-22) was going to come out.

In late April, the teams played three, nail-biting, one-run games at Taylor Park, with the Golden Eagles taking a pair of 2-1 victories sandwiched around a 4-3 win by the Owls.

The clubs followed a similar script Sunday.

Rice took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on left fielder Dayne Wunderlich’s single after the Owls loaded the bases with one out against Southern Miss starter Hayden Roberts, who was making the first start of his Southern Miss career.

It was the only run allowed by Roberts, who would scatter four hits over 4 2/3 innings.

“It’s a matter of inches,” Rice coach Wayne Graham said. “We hit the ball very well (Sunday) and we couldn’t find any gaps.”

Southern Miss tied the game in the fifth. Catcher Chuckie Robinson singled and Rice start Willy Amador walked third baseman Tracy Hadley and shortstop Nick Dawson to load the bases with no outs.

That ended Amador’s day, and brought Rice’s usual Friday night starter, Jon Duplantier, from the bullpen in his first relief appearance of the year.

Duplantier eventually struck out three Golden Eagles to end the inning, but in the process, uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Robinson to score and make it a 1-1 game.

Duplantier would strike out eight in 4 2/3, allowing just three hits.

But the Golden Eagles came up with big hits at the right time to get two more runs on the scoreboard.

In the eighth inning, Lynch led off with a walk and moved to second on a Duplantier wild pitch. Two outs later, designated hitter Daniel Keating drilled a 1-2 pitch into the left-center field gap to bring home Lynch for a 2-1 lead.

Center fielder Jake Sandlin saved two runs in the bottom of the inning when he outraced a fly by shortstop Ford Proctor to make a sliding catch at the fringe of the outfield warning track for the third out of the inning.

“I have never run so hard in my life,” Sandlin said.

The Golden Eagles nicked Duplantier (7-6) for another, two-out run in the top of the ninth.

Sandlin doubled and Lynch walked for the third time, twice intentionally. Freshman Storme Cooper, who had entered as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the eighth, followed with an opposite-field single to bump Southern Miss’ lead to 3-1.

First baseman Tristan Gray singled to open the bottom of the ninth off Sandlin’s brother, Nick, who entered to close the game.

Sandlin got third baseman Connor Teykl to fly out, but Lewis singled, sending Gray to second. After designated hitter Dominic DiCaprio struck out, Wunderlich drove a ball into the left-center-field gap.

Gray scored, and Lewis was waved home. But Jake Sandlin retrieved Wunderlich’s ball, hit Dawson as the cutoff man, who in turn found Lynch as a second cutoff near the pitcher’s mound.

Lynch, who caught ball near his hip, then pivoted and threw a strike home to Robinson, who had the baseline covered and plate smothered.

“Tim, being in the right spot at the right time, threw the ball to me, and we banged (Lewis),” Robinson said. “I was very surprised they sent him, but that’s Rice, though.

“Before the game, our coaches told us that they were very aggressive team on the bases, and we were prepared from the get-go.”

After Robinson’s tag, the dogpile ensued, and a half hour after the final play, Golden Eagles lingered on down the left-line at Taylor Park, mingling with fans, family, friends and each other in a celebration to savor.

“That’s what I came here for,” Southern Miss right fielder Dylan Burdeaux said, “and we got it done.”

Five Southern Miss pitchers checked Rice on 10 hits, with reliever Nick Johnson (3-1) picking up the win with 1 1/3 innings of 1-hit ball.

“I thought we had a really good chance to win,” Graham said. “We just couldn’t put numbers on the board.”

The following is an official press release courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.

Golden Eagles Score Early, Hang On to Beat Marshall 3-2 and Advance to C-USA Championship Game

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — For about three hours after Chase Scott knocked the first pitch he had seen in three games off the wall in left field, five Southern Miss pitchers dipped and dodged their way through a dangerous and dogged Marshall batting order.

The result: c loser Nick Sandlin corralling a final-out comebacker to cinch a tightrope-tense 3-2 victory over Marshall that sent the Golden Eagles into Sunday’s 1 p.m. title game of the 2016 Conference USA Baseball Championship.

Third-seeded Southern Miss (39-18) will be making its sixth appearance in the C-USA title game and the first in front of its home crowd since 2009.

“Every program puts in a lot of time, effort and work to get to this point,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “Knowing that we are one of those two teams is a special feeling.”

The Golden Eagles will play the winner of Saturday’s second meeting between fourth-seeded Rice and fifth-seeded Louisiana Tech for the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA postseason.

Louisiana Tech had beaten Rice 13-10 in Saturday’s opening game to force a winner-take-all contest.

The Golden Eagles avoided the same fate by making a 3-1 lead in the first stand up against the second-seeded Herd (34-21).

Over the next eight innings, Marshall put runners on base in seven of them, including six innings with at least one runner in scoring position.

But three Golden Eagle freshmen, including starter Walker Powell and relievers Stevie Powers (1-1) and Sandlin, and an old hand, senior Jake Winston, escaped jam after jam after jam, stranding 13 Marshall baserunners, including eight in scoring position.

“I didn’t think three runs in the first inning would be enough to win the game, but it was, with the arms that we threw out there and how the guys performed out there on the mound,” Berry said.

Marshall coach Jeff Waggoner said the Herd just could not come up with the big hit to break through against the Golden Eagles.

“They played their hearts out,” Waggoner said. “It took everybody to keep us in the game and we just fell short.

“We didn’t have the big hits we needed. We had every opportunity to break open that game, and in the end, we just didn’t. But hats off to those guys for making the pitches and playing a great defensive game.”

One of the biggest came in the seventh inning, when left fielder DJ Gee and second baseman Aaron Bossi led off with singles that put men on first and third with no outs.

Catcher Chuckie Robinson threw out Bossi trying to steal, with Gee holding third, for the first out, and after Marshall first baseman Tommy Lane walked, third baseman Tyler Ratliff grounded to Southern Miss shortstop Nick Dawson, who started an inning-ending double play.

“The big double play there in the seventh, first-and-third, nobody out, that was huge,” Berry said. “But I’ll tell you what, Winston, and Powers and Sandlin and even Walker Powell, they all showed up (Saturday) and gave us great, great outings from the pitching staff.”

Scott was making his first appearance in the tournament since being struck just below the left cheekbone by a pitch Wednesday night.

He laced the first offering he saw from Marshall starter Chase Boster (8-2) just over the glove of Gee at the left-field wall , giving the Golden Eagles a 3-0 lead.

“In that situation, I just wanted to put a ball in play,” Scott said of the bases-loaded opportunity. “I just told myself not to be gunshy after what happened on Wednesday. I just looked for a pitch I could handle, and it ended up working out in my favor.”

Marshall scored on Bossi’s RBI-single in the first, but couldn’t get another until center fielder Corey Bird’s single off Southern Miss reliever Luke Lowery with two outs in the eighth inning.

But Sandlin came in to Gee on a fly ball to left field the inning, and then after giving up an infield single to Bossi to lead off the ninth, Sandlin struck out two and got Ryne Deen to ground back to the mound.

“Yeah, there were some nerves, but it wasn’t too bad,” said Sandlin, who notched his 11th save of the season. “I’ve been in some situations before. But the crowd was a little extra loud (Saturday). It was a great crowd.

And not only are Berry and his Golden Eagles expecting another large crowd Sunday, but are hoping to play before the home fans again next week after the NCAA Regional sites are announced.

“With our RPI, I think we have positioned ourselves, definitely, for high consideration to host right here,” Berry said. “This atmosphere, everything that we have done as a program and the way our school and community embraces it, I can’t see why we would not get one.”

The following is an official press release courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.

Jake Sandlin Grand Slam Helps Lifts Southern Miss over Marshall 9-3 Thursday Night

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — After earning a day of rest, Southern Miss will have quite the crowded agenda come the weekend.

With Thursday night’s 9-3 victory over second-seeded Marshall at Pete Taylor Park, the third-seeded Golden Eagles will vie for one win on Saturday that would give them a spot in Sunday’s championship game of the 2016 Conference USA Baseball Tournament.

“We got put in a great position (Thursday) night by getting that,” said center fielder Jake Sandlin, whose mammoth grand slam was the centerpiece of a five-run, third inning.

No. 20 Southern Miss (38-18) will move unbeaten into Saturday’s semifinals, where the Golden Eagles await the winner of Friday’s 6:30 p.m. elimination rematch between the Thundering Herd (33-20) and seventh-seeded Florida International (29-28).

Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said the Golden Eagles won’t change their approach for the weekend ahead.

“It is the next game, and that’s what we’re going to stay with,” Berry said. “That’s what we’ve done all spring, take it one game at a time, and the next one is Saturday. That’s our next opportunity to win a baseball game, so we’ll lock in on that one.”

Catcher Chuckie Robinson also homered as the 20th-ranked Golden Eagles spotted the Herd a 2-0 lead before roaring back.

Kirk McCarty (7-1) allowed two runs on three hits in the first inning, including a run-scoring single by second baseman Aaron Bossi.  Third baseman Tyler Ratliff collected the first of his two RBIs with a sacrifice fly.

McCarty settled in after that, allowing four hits over the next 4 1/3 innings, striking out three while walking just one. Marshall’s lone run after the first came on a leadoff home run by Ratliff, his 11th of the season.

But that came not after Southern Miss answered with a three-run first inning of its own, but the five-run third inning that put an exclamation point on the second day of the tournament.

A run-scoring fielder’s choice by third baseman Tracy Hadley scored Southern Miss’ first run, and Robinson followed two batters later with a two-run single off Marshall starter Parker Danciu (5-4) that put the Golden Eagles ahead for good.

“I thought both starters came out and were overthrowing,” Marshall coach Jeff Waggoner said. “They had some pitches up in the zone. Five runs were scored in the first inning, but their guy settled in and they put some good swings on the ball.”

Indeed.

In the third, Hadley tripled and left fielder Hunter Slater followed with a single for a 4-2 lead. Robinson walked, and after a sacrifice bunt moved both runners up a base, shortstop Nick Dawson walked off reliever JD Hammer to load the bases.

Dylan Burdeaux, who saw a 10-game hitting streak snapped, struck out, bringing Sandlin to the plate. Sandlin fell behind 0-2 in the count, worked Hammer for three consecutive balls to a full count before fouling off a pitch.

Sandlin didn’t miss on Hammer’s seventh offering, crushing the ball over the wall in right-center field.

It was Sandlin’s second home run in as many games, his sixth on the season, and was Southern Miss’ second grand slam of the tournament.

First baseman Tim Lynch, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high-tying 11 games, hit a grand slam Wednesday in a 17-5 win over Old Dominion.

“One-hundred-percent, I knew I got it,” said Sandlin, who has driven in five runs and scored five run in two tournament games. “On a scale of one to 10, I hit it about a 12. I don’t think I’m going to hit any better anytime soon.”

Robinson, who also has driven in five runs and scored three in the tournament, led off the fifth inning with his sixth home run of the year.

Nick Johnson followed McCarty with 2 2/3 innings of hitless ball, while Nick Sandlin allowed a hit in the ninth.

Sandlin, Robinson and designated hitter Daniel Keating each had two hits for the Golden Eagles, while center fielder Corey Bird had three of Marshall’s eight hits and reached a fourth time on an error.

The following is an official press release courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.

Baseball Grabs 17-5 Win Against ODU in C-USA Tournament

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Southern Miss baseball didn’t click its collective cleats together three times to find out there’s no place like home.

But after suffering through a lost weekend in South Florida, where leads disappeared like sno-cones on Gator Alley midday asphalt, the Golden Eagles found it was good to be back at Taylor Park for the opening round of the 2016 Conference USA Baseball Tournament.

Senior reliever Jake Winston stonewalled Old Dominion while Southern Miss was mashed out the majority of its 17 as the third-seeded Golden Eagles rolled over the sixth-seeded Monarchs 17-5 Wednesday evening in a run-rule-shortened seven-inning game.

No. 20 Southern Miss, which improved to 25-4 at home, won an opening-round tournament game for the first time in three years.

The Golden Eagles (37-18) will play a winner bracket game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s final opening-round game between seventh-seeded Florida International and second-seeded Marshall.

“We really feel good here, obviously, with our record,” said Winston, who came out of the bullpen with Southern Miss trailing in the second inning and gave the Golden Eagles four scoreless innings of one-hit ball.

“We wanted to make a statement Wednesday night, and our offense, golly, that was pretty unbelievable.”

ODU (32-23) will take on the FIU-Marshall in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

“We just need to move forward and forget about this one,” ODU coach Chris Finwood said. “We didn’t do much of anything right.”

The Golden Eagles came within one of their single-game hit total, and they put up an eight-run fifth inning for their most productive inning of the season. The 17 runs were the most in a C-USA tournament game since 2010 when Rice beat Houston 24-3.

“We kept our foot on the gas,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “Coming off of a tough weekend at Miami (where the Golden Eagles were swept by FIU), for our guys to come out and put that weekend behind us and open up a new season in this tournament, I was really pleased, really pleased, with the way our team responded.”

Especially after ODU erased a right-out-of-the-gate, significant lead by the Golden Eagles.

Southern Miss jumped on the Monarchs for a 4-0 lead in the first inning, including a two-out, three-run home run by designated hitter Daniel Keating.

But Golden Eagles’ starter Cord Cockrell ran into his own two-out trouble, giving up a two-run homer to catcher Kyle Beam and a three-run homer to shortstop Zach Rutherford to give ODU a 5-4 lead in the second.

But Southern Miss answered right back, scoring on second baseman Chase Scott’s two-run single to take a 6-5 lead against Monarchs starter Victor Diaz (6-4).

The Golden Eagles never looked back, and the Monarchs would manage just one more hit off relievers Winston (7-1), Luke Lowery and Clay Tageant after the second inning.

“It was 6-5, and then the wheels fell off,” Finwood said.

Southern Miss padded the lead to 8-5 on bases-loaded walks to left fielder Hunter Slater and Keating in the fourth inning, and then put the game away with its eight-run fifth inning that included first baseman Tim Lynch’s first career grand slam.

“That was nice right there because we were up by three and had a chance to break it open, and we did,” said Lynch, who became the third Golden Eagle with at least 10 home runs on the season.

Center fielder Jake Sandlin added his fifth homer of the season to lead off the sixth inning for the final run of the game.

Every Golden Eagle starter had at least one hit. Center fielder Dylan Burdeaux, who had three hits and scored three times, recorded his seventh, consecutive game with at least two hits. Keating drove in a career-high five runs on two hits and a walk. Lynch _ who joined Keating and four other Southern Miss hitters with two hits _ and Burdeaux each extended their hitting streaks to 10 games.

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