June 5, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Southern Miss baseball team may have come up short a little bit on its ultimate goal - reaching the NCAA postseason again - but the achievements of this 2014 squad were certainly outstanding.
The Golden Eagles, which finished 35-25 overall and 19-11 in Conference USA which was good for third place, collected their most league victories since 2005 - winning eight of 10 league series throughout the season. Southern Miss finished in the top three in the league standings in each of the last five seasons.
The program won 30 or more games for the 13th consecutive season and finished above the .500 mark for the 28th time in the last 29 years.
Southern Miss was a game away from reaching the C-USA Baseball Championship title game for the second-straight year (and the fourth time in the last six seasons. The Golden Eagles have won at least one league tournament game since 1985 Metro Conference Tournament in Tallahassee, Fla.
After starting the year at 6-9, the squad went 29-16 (.644) over almost the last two and a half months of the season. The team defeated Ole Miss and Alabama each twice and went 5-6 against the Southeastern Conference during the campaign.
The Golden Eagles also lost consecutive games just twice since early March, winning 14 of 19 games at one point.
The 2014 campaign did not get going as planned with its originally scheduled opponent for the opening weekend, Stony Brook, could not travel south due to a severe snow storm in the northeast. Instead the Golden Eagles had to travel to Lake Charles to face Missouri, Chicago State and host Cowboys in a tournament-style setting.
Despite losing just one game to rain during the year - the New Orleans contest on March 11 at Pete Taylor Park - weather wreaked havoc with the schedule all spring and forced the Golden Eagles to play five unscheduled doubleheaders.
There were also a multitude of outstanding individual performances for this team in 2014.
Junior Matt Durst (Whitehouse, Texas) became the first Golden Eagle since B.A. Vollmuth in 2010 to capture the team's triple crown (batting average, home runs, RBI) by batting .277 with six home runs and 42 RBI. Durst's biggest hit came in the form of a grand slam to give the Golden Eagles a victory in the series finale over Rice in Hattiesburg in April.
Fellow junior, Bradley Roney, of Wetumpka, Ala., collected a 2-0 record with 12 saves during the campaign, posting a 1.24 earned run average and 38 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. This feat is pretty remarkable, considering that Roney did not pitch for a month during the season to rest his arm.
Roney's save total this spring enabled him to tie the school's career mark of 30, along with Collin Cargill, who tallied that mark from 2008-11.
Senior right-handed pitcher Conor Fisk (Brown Deer, Wis.) led a solid group of starting pitchers with a 7-2 record to go along with a 2.62 ERA. He fanned a team-best 84 in 89 1/3 innings of work. The Golden Eagles got solid starting pitching from fellow senior Cameron Giannini (Danville, Va.), who posted a 5-2 mark, including a his first complete game in his final outing, a 3-1 victory over East Carolina in the C-USA Tournament. Giannini finished his career as a starting after working out of the pen his first two years with the program.
Junior right-hander Christian Talley (Diamondhead, Miss.) notched a 4-4 mark for Southern Miss. Talley, along with sophomore right-hander Cody Carroll (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) each overcame early injuries to help the team's rotation. Carroll finished with a 3-2 mark during the campaign.
Fisk, along with Roney and Durst, each made Conference USA second team honors for their play during the year. Outfielder Dylan Burdeaux (West Monroe, La.) earned All-Freshman team honors by the league after hitting .266 with 10 doubles, a triple, three home runs and 24 RBI.
The Golden Eagles return a solid nucleus in 2015 and the future looks bright for this program as they signed 11 players for next season as they vie to get back to the NCAA postseason.