March 29, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss baseball team travels to Rice this weekend looking to continue their strong start to Conference USA play.
Game times for the series are 6:30 p.m., on Friday, 3:30 p.m., on Saturday and 1 p.m., on Sunday from Reckling Park on the Rice campus. The finale will be televised via Fox Sports Net and be shown on Sportsouth as one of the regional carriers of the game. Please check your local listings for availability in your area.
The Golden Eagles (15-10 overall, 2-1 C-USA) currently sit in a four-way tie for first place in the league standings with the Owls, UAB and UCF after taking two of three games from Houston last weekend during the conference's opening weekend.
The squad got both good and bad news this week as Kameron Brunty returned to the lineup Tuesday night after missing 15 games with a hand injury sustained against Alabama on Feb. 29. Brunty went 1-for-4 in his return with a run driven in as he has tallied a .355 batting average this season. The bad news involved sophomore catcher Jared Bales who was declared out for the remainder of the campaign due to a stress fracture in his back.
Southern Miss will continue to look to freshmen Mason Robbins and Connor Barron offensively this weekend. Robbins leads the squad with a .394 batting mark, while Barron is hitting at a .357 clip. Junior Isaac Rodriguez continues to swing a hot bat and has raised his batting average to .333 after hitting .480 over his last six games (12-for-25).
The series will begin with a strong pitching matchup featuring the two current C-USA Co-Pitchers of the Week, right-handers Andrew Pierce and Matthew Reckling. Pierce has posted a 3-1 record with a 1.83 earned run average after fanning 15 in his first Friday night start last week against Houston. He will face Reckling, who has posted a 4-0 mark with a 1.05 ERA for Owls (19-8, 2-1).
On Saturday, USM redshirt freshman lefthander Jake Drehoff (3-0, 3.82 ERA) will face righty Jordan Stephens (2-1, 1.47 ERA). The Golden Eagles at this point are undecided on a Sunday starter, while the Owls are set to throw Andrew Benak (4-0, 1.15 ERA) in the finale.
Following the Rice series, the Golden Eagles will return to action on Tuesday when they take on Ole Miss in a 6:30 p.m., contest at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
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