Southern Miss wins C-USA Baseball Championship
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss defeated Rice, 3-2 on Sunday and are now the 2016 Conference USA Baseball Champions.
Designated Hitter, Daniel Keating said, "Rice is a great team. We knew that they were going to come out and play lights out today."
Pitcher, Nick Johnson said, "You wouldn't want it any better than this. The Eagles and the Owls going up against each other. You know two teams that have been year-in and year-out at the top of Conference USA."
The championship was a game of defense and pitching, as both teams struggled offensively. But, Rice was able to score the first run in the bottom of the second inning.
Pitcher, Stevie Powers said, "Two really good teams, two really good pitching staffs. Obviously we burned a lot of guys just trying to get to this point. Both teams had. We always harp on winning that six, seven, eight."
Southern Miss would score their first run in the fifth inning after a Rice error.
Then in the eighth inning, Daniel Keating ripped a base hit to centerfield, which enabled the Golden Eagles to go up, 2-1.
Keating said "Duplantier is a heck of a pitcher. He's one of the best in the nation. I was just looking for something up and I knew he was going to come with the slider and I was looking for it up and he did so I got just enough barrel on there."
In the top of the ninth inning, Storme Cooper hit a base hit to rightfield and helped give USM a 3-1 lead.
Head coach, Scott Berry said, "He's done that numerous times for us this year in those big situations and for that young man as a freshman to step in, that's a pretty cool customer right there to be able to do that for us."
Then in the bottom of the ninth inning, with a championship on the line, Chuckie Robinson tagged a man out at home plate to seal the 3-2 victory.
Catcher, Chuckie Robinson said, "Nick Sandlin did a great job of cutting it off. It hit Nick Dawson. I thought it was coming straight home. The throw was kind of off-line. Tim came out of nowhere and I grabbed it and banged the guy. So it was an awesome play. Great way to end the game."
Berry said "I'm just so proud of our guys and happy for them and our coaching staff because they worked really, really hard to try to get to this and the shame of it is there's only one team out of eight that's able to feel this right now. So I'm just proud that it's our team."
The Golden Eagles have received an automatic bid to play in this year's NCAA Division-1 Baseball Championship and the team is hoping to emulate the success they had in 2009 and make it back to the College World Series.
Southern Miss will play South Alabama on Friday in the Tallahassee Regional.