Go Eagles!
Go Eagles!
Baseball Hosts Coca-Cola Classic To Open 2007 Season

Feb. 15, 2007

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss Baseball team opens its 2007 season at "The Pete" on Friday, Feb. 16 - Sunday, Feb. 18, when it hosts the Coca-Cola Classic, featuring Louisville, Northwestern (La.) State and Southern Illinois.

On Friday, Feb. 16, Louisville and Northwestern State will open the Classic at Noon, followed by Southern Illinois and Southern Miss at 4 p.m. Saturday's first game will feature Southern Illinois and Northwestern State at Noon and Louisville and Southern Miss will play at 4 p.m. In Sunday's games, Southern Illinois and Louisville will play at 11 a.m., followed by Southern Miss and Northwestern State at 3 p.m.

All Southern Miss games will be carried on the radio and on-line at www.SouthernMiss.com. Friday's and Sunday's games will be carried locally on WXHB-96.5 FM, and Saturday's game will be aired on WUSM-FM, 88.5 FM. John Cox and Lance Pittman will broadcast the games for the entire weekend. Fans can also follow each game via GameTracker on-line at www.SouthernMiss.com. Click the 2007 Coca-Cola Classic Button in the top right hand corner of the front page.

Southern Miss opens the 2007 season after posting a 39-23 overall record in 2006 and a 13-ll mark in Conference USA, tying with Memphis for fourth place. The Golden Eagles made their school-record fourth-straight NCAA Regional Tournament appearance in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional last year.

Louisville (0-0) opens its season at the Coca-Cola Classic after having its first game against Murray State, postponed due to inclement weather. The Cards finished 31-29 overall and 17-10 in the Big East Conference last season and advanced to the championship game of the conference tournament.

Northwestern State (1-3) opened its season last weekend in a three-game series against Dallas Baptist at home, dropping all three games, 13-5, 12-2 and 8-7. The Demons picked up its first win of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 13, against Centenary, 5-4. Last season, Northwestern State finished 33-28 overall and 15-15 in the Southland Conference, finishing in sixth place.

Southern Illinois (1-2) opened its season last weekend in a three-game series at Stetson. The Salukis lost the first game, 5-4, won game two, 6-1 and was shutout 3-0 in the series finale. Southern Illinois finished 33-25 overall last season and 12-12 (fifth place) in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Southern Miss is facing Southern Illinois for the first time in the school's history. Louisville used to be a member of the Metro Conference and of Conference USA. The Golden Eagles and the Cardinals have played 62 times dating back to 1976 with Southern Miss holding a 43-19 series advantage, including winning seven of the last nine meetings, dating back to 2003. Southern Miss and Northwestern State have played four times, dating back to 1949, with the Golden Eagles holding a 3-1 series lead. Southern Miss swept Northwestern State in 2004 when the Demons faced the Golden Eagles in the season-opening series.

In the tournament's first game on Friday, Louisville sends junior right-hander Zack Pitts to the mound to face sophomore right-hander Jimmy Heard from Northwestern State. Last season, Pitts posted a 1-1 record with a 5.74 ERA in 31.1 innings pitched, mostly in relief. He struck out 23 and walked 11 batters. Heard pitched five innings against Dallas Baptist, giving up three runs, two earned, walking two and striking out eight but didn't receive a decision.

Southern Illinois sends right-hand pitcher Jordan Powell to the mound to face Southern Miss' Ryan Belanger. In his last outing, Powell pitched 5.1 innings, giving up five runs, four earned on six hits, two walks and struck out three and was credited with the loss. Belanger finished with eight wins last year, posting an 8-3 record and 3.82 ERA in 66 innings pitched. He struck out a team-high 62 batters and walked 24.

In Saturday's games, Southern Illinois sends right-hander sophomore Cody Adams to face Northwestern State's senior left-hander Fraser Robinson. In last week's game against Stetson, Adams picked up the win, pitching 6.2 innings, giving up one run on four hits, walking one and striking out five. Robinson gave up seven runs, six earned on nine hits, walking three and striking out four against Dallas Baptist.

Southern Miss will throw redshirt sophomore right-hander Barry Bowden against Louisville freshman right-hander Tyler Mathis. Bowden finished with a 3-2 record with a 4.37 ERA in 57.2 innings last season, striking out 48, walking 30 and opponents hit .261 against him.

In the tournament's final games, Southern Illinois will throw junior left-hander Shawn Joy against Louisville's freshman left-hander Justin Marks. Last week against Stetson, Joy dropped his first decision, pitching six innings, giving up three unearned runs on seven hits and striking out two.

Northwestern State will pitch senior right-hander Drew Brown against redshirt juinior right-hander David Clark for Southern Miss. Last week against Dallas Baptist, Brown pitched 4.1 innings, earning a no-decision, giving up two runs on five hits, walking four and striking out two batters. Last season, Clark finished 3-2 with a 6.66 ERA in 50 innings pitched, striking out 45 and walking 27.

The Golden Eagles are led by junior second baseman Trey Sutton, who led the team with a .375 batting average with 14 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 32 RBIs. Sophomore shortstop Brian Dozier hit .368 with eight doubles, four triples, three home runs and 39 RBIs. Sophomore outfielder Michael Ewing hit .313 with a team-high 15 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 41 RBIs.

The Salukis are led by sophomore catcher Mark Kelly, who is hitting .455 with a double and four RBIs. Senior outfielder Kevin Koski is second on the squad, hitting .308 with a double, and freshman infielder Tyler Choate is hitting .300 with an RBI.

Northwestern State is led by junior shortstop Brandon Richey, who is leading the team with a .375 batting average with a double and an RBI. Junior outfielder Bernard Williams is hitting .333 with a triple and an RBI, while redshirt freshman infielder Chase Lyles is batting .308 with an RBI.

Louisville is led by senior shortstop Chris Cates, who hit .14 doubles, two triples, a home run and 32 RBIs last season. Senior second baseman Logan Johnson hit .319 with 18 doubles, 10 home runs and 49 RBIs, while junior first baseman Jorge Castillo hit .317 with 16 doubles, four home runs and 44 RBIs.

After this weekend's Coca-Cola Classic, the Golden Eagles host South Alabama on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m., and New Orleans on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m.

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