March 23, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Andrew Pierce fanned 15 over seven innings and Ashley Graeter and Joe Martin each drove in three runs to lead Southern Miss to an 8-0 Conference USA-opening win over Houston here Friday night at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
The Golden Eagles (13-9 overall, 1-0 C-USA) recorded their second consecutive shutout as Pierce (3-1) scattered seven hits over seven innings and did not walk a batter to earn a victory. His strikeout total is the most ever for a Golden Eagle in a nine-inning game. The school record is 19 set by Fred Waters against Loyola (N.O.) in 1948 in a 14-inning contest.
"He had an outstanding night," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said of Pierce. "When you strikeout 15 that doesn't put any pressure on the defense except for the catcher. I am extremely proud of Andrew and I'm also proud of Ashley Graeter, who put us ahead early with a big two-out home run (in the first)."
Chase Horn threw the final two innings and added two more strikeouts while allowing four hits to complete the team's shutout. The Golden Eagles have blanked its opponent in two straight games for the first time since shutting out Houston on May 17 (6-0) and 18 (4-0) during the 2007 campaign.
The Golden Eagles, which snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cougars (9-11, 0-1) with the victory, scored in just three innings. They jumped out to a quick 3-0 advantage in the first. UH starter Jordan Lewis had trouble finding the plate and walked two of the first three hits and Graeter gave the Eagles he lead for good with a three-run homer to left-centerfield for his first of the season.
Southern Miss added four more runs in the third as Michael Sterling walked and Blake Brown singled to open the frame. After a strikeout, Jordan Mannisto then entered for Lewis and gave up a single to Graeter to load the bases.
Isaac Rodriguez then reached on a fielding error by Cougar shortstop Chase Jensen, before Joe Martin cleared the bases with a double to left to make the score 7-0. Travis Creel added a sacrifice fly in the eighth to complete the Golden Eagles' scoring.
Lewis allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits and four walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts to suffer the loss and fall to 3-3.
Codey Morehouse led the Cougar 11-hit attack with three, while Jacob Lueneburg and Price Jacobs added two apiece.
The two teams return to action Saturday with a 6 p.m., contest. The game will be televised by CSS.
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