HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss rode a four-run second inning and a strong starting pitching performance from Andrew Pierce to defeat Eastern Illinois 6-3 here on a rainy Friday night at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
The first game of the Southern Miss Invitational earlier in the day saw Missouri State defeat Alcorn State, 8-1. On Saturday, EIU and Alcorn State will meet at 12 noon, while the Golden Eagles (4-1) will take on Missouri State at 4 p.m.
It was USM's Isaac Rodriguez, who had a pair of doubles in the contest, which started off the big-scoring inning with a two-base hit before Blake Brown singled to put runners on the corners. Designated hitter Tim Lynch put Southern Miss on the board with a run-scoring single through the right side and Andrew Furr followed with a sacrifice fly.
Bradley Roney then walked before Chase Fowler singled to right which was misplayed and allowed a pair of runs to score to give USM the early 4-0 advantage.
"We've played well enough to be 4-1, but offensively, we have not jelled like we're capable of, yet," said Southern Miss coach Scott Berry, whose team managed six hits in the contest. "It's like I told the team, if we get everything going, we're going to be a very good team."
As for the senior righthander, Pierce (2-0) retired the first 10 batters he faced and gave up no runs on just three singles over 7 1/3 with five strikeouts to get the victory. He threw 79 pitches, 55 for strikeouts, before a one hour, 18-minute rain delay forced him to leave the game.
With Southern Miss up 5-0 - the Golden Eagles also scored on a Panther error in the sixth - EIU rallied for three runs off Luke Lowery following the delay to cut the gap on a two-run double from Jacob Reese and an RBI single from Nick Priessman.
Southern Miss then sent for Daniel Wineski, who got out of the inning when Priesmann was caught advancing to second on a pitch that briefly eluded Fowler behind the plate.
The Eagles finished their scoring with a Furr RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth.