HATTIESSBURG, Miss. - Andrew Pierce allowed just one run over seven innings and Chase Fowler drove in three runs to lead Southern Miss to a 5-2 season-opening home baseball victory over Missouri here Friday evening at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
The Golden Eagles won their eighth season opener in the last nine seasons, as six different USM players registered a hit in the contest.
It was Pierce, though, the right-hander hurler from Stringer, Miss., which set the tone for the Golden Eagles to start 2013.
"He's just Mr. Steady," fourth-year Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "Mr. Pierce just goes out and does what he does so well, and that's win on Friday night."
Pierce, who in 14 starts last season registered at least seven strikeouts in seven of them, fanned nine Tigers and walked just one as he scattered six hits and threw 66 of his 99 pitches for strikes in the contest.
After senior Isaac Rodriguez gave the Golden Eagles an early advantage with an RBI single to center in the bottom of the first, Pierce allowed his only run on a Keaton Steele single in the third, but stranded seven Mizzou runners in the contest to get the victory.
It was Fowler that put Southern Miss ahead for good with a two-run single to centerfield in the sixth. Mizzou starter Rob Zastryzny walked the first two batters to start the inning, and freshman Tim Lynch then executed a perfect sacrifice bunt on the left side of the infield to move the runners up a base, setting up Fowler's go-ahead single.
One inning later, Southern Miss then took advantage of two Tiger errors with Lynch knocking in a run with a fielder's choice and Fowler completing the scoring with a sacrifice fly to leftfield.
The visitors got their run off of Golden Eagle reliever Sean Buchholz in the ninth, who surrendered a RBI single to Kendall Keeton, one of three hits for the Tiger second baseman. Dylan Kelly added two hits for the Mizzou.
Buchholz gave up a run on three hits over the final two innings and fanned one for Southern Miss. Zastryzny allowed three runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts to suffer the loss for Mizzou.
Game two of the series is set to take place here at 2 p.m. The game can be heard on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network.