May 26, 2010
HOUSTON - Four Golden Eagle batters hit home runs and starter Scott Copeland struck out five in eight shutout innings as Southern Miss defeated Memphis, 8-2, in game one of the 2010 Conference USA Baseball Championship Wednesday afternoon at the University of Houston's Cougar Field.
Following three scoreless frames, the Golden Eagles hit three homers in part of a six-run fourth and added two more runs in the sixth courtesy of another bomb as seven of USM's eight runs came via the long ball. With the win, Southern Miss won for the 15th time in its last 19 games to improve to 33-21 on the year. Memphis, meanwhile, fell to 27-29.
Centerfielder Dillon Day got things going for Southern Miss in the fourth when he reached on a fielder's choice, advanced 180 feet via a stolen base and wild pitch, and came around to score on an RBI-double off the bat of third baseman Joey Archer. From there, Travis Graves hammered a two-run homer to left and right fielder Tyler Koelling sent the very next pitch over the wall just right of center to make it 4-0.
Memphis starter Ryan Fraser got a fly ball to right for the second out of the stanza, but USM shortstop B.A. Vollmuth followed with a two-run bomb to cap the six-run stanza. Vollmuth's round-tripper was his eighth in the last eight games and 15th of the season.
Memphis avoided the shutout with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth courtesy of an RBI-groundout to second by Adam McClain and a run-scoring single to right by Shawn Ablett off Southern Miss reliever Paxton King.
The game, however, belong to Copeland. Taking the mound for the second time against Memphis in eight days - he also started against the Tigers on May 20 in Hattiesburg - Copeland pitched his way around three singles, a walk and a hit batsman over the first four stanzas but faced just two more than the minimum the rest of his outing, including three-up, three-down frames in the fifth, sixth and eighth.
He allowed just one hit over his final four innings - a one out single by Memphis first baseman Trey Wiedman in the seventh, and pitched his way out of a two-out error later in the frame to maintain the shutout to that point. With the win, Copeland improves to 10-0 to become the first Southern Miss hurler to post double-digit victories and no losses since Hugh Pepper posted the same record back in 1954.
Southern Miss returns to action on Thursday when the Golden Eagles open day two of the C-USA Championship against East Carolina at 11 a.m.
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