HOUSTON, Texas (WDAM) - After losing a step in the race for Conference USA’s West Division Friday, the University of Southern Mississippi baseball team spent the rest of the weekend beating the stew out of Rice University.
The 22nd-ranked Golden Eagles captured the four-game weekend series with an 8-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park, as USM won the final three games of the series by outscoring the Owls 30-3.
But a 6-0 loss in the series opener Friday proved costly to the Golden Eagles, who saw West Division-leading Louisiana Tech University finish off a four-game sweep of Middle Tennessee State University Sunday.
The 16th-ranked Bulldogs (32-11, 18-6 C-USA) picked up a game on the Golden Eagles (29-14, 16-7) over the weekend to take a 1 1/.2-game lead atop the West.
After the series-opening loss, USM took it out on the Owls.
USM pitching allowed Rice (18-26-1, 6-17-1) just one run in each of the final three games while the Golden Eagles averaged 12.7 hits and 10 runs in their three-game winning streak.
Sunday, USM left-hander Drew Boyd matched a career-best, giving the Golden Eagles six strong innings.
In return, USM gave Boyd four runs to work with in the second inning off Rice starting pitcher Guy Garibay.
By the time Boyd left the game, USM led 7-1.
Blake Johnson’s single, Dustin Dickerson’s double and Gabe Montenegro’s grounder scored runs in the second inning, with the fourth coming home on a Rice error.
The Owls scored their lone run when Austin Bulman led off the bottom of the second inning with his fifth home run of the season.
But USM put up two more runs in the third inning on Danny Lynch’s single and a wild pitch before Fischer’s RBI-double in the fourth inning made the score 7-1.
Fischer, who went 4-for-5 Sunday with two doubles, two singles, two RBIs and a run scored, drove in USM’s final run with a seventh-inning single.
Dickerson went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a RBI, while Reece Ewing was 2-for-4 with a walk.
For the series, Fischer went 8-for-15 with five doubles and two walks, drove in seven runs and scored twice.
Dickerson also had a big weekend, going 7-of-13 with two doubles and two walks. He drove in four runs and scored four times from the nine-hole in the batting order.
Boyd (3-2) allowed one run on five hits to pick up the win. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.
Tyler Stuart, Ryan Och and Garrett Ramsey pitched an inning each to close out the game for USM.
Garibay (1-2) allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings.
USM is scheduled to play five games at Pete Taylor Park this week, starting with a 6 p.m. Tuesday mid-week visit from Southeastern Louisiana University.
The Golden Eagles will welcome West Division rival Middle Tennessee State University to Hattiesburg for a four-game conference series that is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Friday.