May 19, 2011
| Box Score in PDF Format
- With a chance to put themselves within one game of clinching their first regular season conference title since 2003, the No. 14 Southern Miss Golden Eagles were shut out at home by No. 17 Rice, 4-0, in the first game of a three-game set at Pete Taylor Park Thursday night.
Southern Miss falls to 37-14 overall and 15-7 in Conference USA play as the Owls (37-17, 15-7) closed the gap and created a two-way tie atop the league standings.
Prior to the start of the game, Southern Miss honored the memory of the "father of Southern Miss baseball," C.J. "Pete" Taylor, who passed away early Sunday morning at the age of 92 with a moving tribute in front of 3,697 fans at the ball park named in his honor.
The Owls threatened early on as J.T. Chargois singled to leftfield and Anthony Rendon, one of the conference's most feared hitters, drew a full-count walk.
With a pair of runners on and one out, the Eagles got Michael Ratterree to line out to shortstop Ashley Graeter who completed the twinkill at second for the nation's best 74th double play of the year.
Southern Miss got on Rice starter Austin Kubitza early with a pair of hits up the middle in the first inning from Kameron Brunty and B.A. Vollmuth, but they were unable to plate any runs in the bottom of the frame as Kubitza got the double play ball to escape unscathed.
In the fourth, Ratterree squeezed a single through the left side and advanced on what appeared to be a successful hit-and-run from Craig Manuel to end up on third.
On the appeal at second, umpire Scott Johnston said that Ratterree did not tag the base and was out on the play for the first out of the inning. After a McInnis strikeout, Ryan Lewis grounded out to end the inning.
Kubitza settled in and sat down nine straight Golden Eagles before Marc Bourgeois singled through the right side in the fourth.
Isaac Rodriguez followed up with a rope headed for the corner in left field but Rice third baseman Shane Hoelscher made an acrobatic leap to snag the ball down and end the threat.
In the sixth, the Owls broke the deadlock as Ratterree again led off with a single through the left side. Following a sacrifice bunt and ground out to the right side of the infield, Lewis recorded a two-strike single to left field to bring in the second baseman from third, making it 1-0.
A pair of Owls reached in the seventh on back-to-back errors ahead of Chargois' attempted sacrifice bunt down the third base line.
With the bunt down, McInnis' throw sailed low and found its way into the fence to allow both runners in and put Chargois on third with the score 3-0.
McInnis intentionally walked Rendon to end his day, giving way to Chase Horn.
Horn was able to fool Ratterree with three sinkers for the strikeout, but Manuel laid down a sacrifice to bring in Chargois from third to put the Owls up 4-0.
In the bottom of the ninth, Brunty snapped Kubitza's streak of 12 straight retired with a comebacker through the 6-foot-5 freshman's legs.
Tyler Koelling reached on a fielder's choice and Vollmuth drew a full count walk to put runners on first and second prompting coach Wayne Graham to end Kubitza's day in favor of lefty Tony Cingrani.
With one out, Cingrani was able to get Bourgeois to strike out and Rodriguez to fly out to center field on a diving catch from Michael Fuda.
It was the first time in 187 games the Golden Eagles had been shut out dating back to a 6-0 loss to UAB on May 16, 2008.
Kubitza (6-3) earned the win on 8.1 innings of work. He scattered five hits without allowing a run and struck out nine.
Cingrani earned the save, his 10th of the season, as the Owls move to within one game of clinching a share of their sixth C-USA title.
McInnis (7-2) suffered the loss on six innings of work. He allowed four runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out two and walking as many.
In three innings of relief work, Horn allowed just one hit and struck out and walked a single batter.
For the Eagles, it is now a two-game regular season as they must win the next two games to re-take the regular season race before heading to Trustmark Park for next week's conference tournament.
Game two of the series is set for Friday at 6 p.m.