HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The much anticipated start of the 2014 Southern Miss baseball season will begin a day late and at a different venue this weekend as the Golden Eagles travel to Lake Charles, La., to play in the Lake Area Classic.
The originally scheduled three-game home series against Stony Brook could not be played due to winter weather in the northeast that did not allow the Seawolves to travel south, prompting the move for Southern Miss to change its plans for the weekend.
Instead of opening on the first day of the college season, Southern Miss has pushed back its start date to Saturday, Feb. 15, with a pair of games. The squad opens the ledger against Missouri for the season-straight season with an 11 a.m., contest at Cowboy Diamond on the McNeese State campus. The Golden Eagles then face Chicago State at 7 p.m., later in the day, before finishing their three games over the weekend with the host Cowboys in a 4:30 p.m., contest on Sunday. All three games can be heard on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network with flagship station WKZW-FM, 94.3, in Hattiesburg/Laurel.
Pete Taylor Park
Sixth-Run Eighth Lifts Baseball to Sweep of Mizzou
Austin Roussel delivered a go-ahead RBI single in a sixth-run eighth to lift Southern Miss to a 6-1 victory over Missouri here Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field to complete a three-game sweep of the visiting Tigers.
This will be the second consecutive year that the Golden Eagles have opened with Missouri, having swept the Tigers in a three-game set in Hattiesburg last season. Southern Miss leads the overall series 8-3 and have won the last six meetings between the two clubs. The Tigers finished 18-31 last season and fifth in the East Division of their inaugural year in the Southeastern Conference. Southern Miss leads the series with Chicago State, 2-0, having playing a doubleheader at Hattiesburg in 1984. CSU posted a 10-45 record a year ago, but return 18 players from a season ago. As for McNeese State, the Golden Eagles are 3-2 against the Cowboys all-time and this will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2004. MSU finished 23-31 in 2013 and the Cowboys are under first-year coach Justin Hill.
As for the Golden Eagles, they return 25 letterwinners from a season ago, including four position player starters and 14 pitchers from a team that finished at 30-27, won its second Conference USA regular-season title in the last three seasons and reached the C-USA Tournament title game for the third time in the last five years.
Junior outfielder Mason Robbins (Leakesville, Miss.) returns as the top hitter for the Golden Eagles with a .317 batting average, two home runs and 40 runs batted in, along with junior third baseman/right-handed pitcher Bradley Roney (Wetumpka, Ala.), who batted .250 last season with two homers and 20 RBI, while also posting a 1-0 record with seven saves as the team's closer. In the opening weekend, Southern Miss expects to start three righthanders. Senior Cameron Giannini (Danville, Va.) will make his first Golden Eagle start against Missouri, after coming out of the bullpen his first 30 appearances over the last two seasons. Giannini has collected a career 4-4 record.
Sophomore Taylor Nunez (Slidell, La.) will then get the call against Chicago State. Nunez made just one relief appearance last season due to injury, after making five starts as a true freshman in 2012. Nunez was a 19th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school in the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft.
Newcomer Christian Talley (Diamondhead, Miss.) makes his debut on Sunday against McNeese, after posting a 9-5 record for Pearl River Junior College last spring. He was a 26th round selection by the Tampa Bay Rays last summer in the MLB First Year Player Draft.
Following this weekend's action, Southern Miss returns to the road to face ULM in a mid-week tilt Tuesday, Feb. 18 in Monroe. Game time is set for 6 p.m.
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