Golden Eagles victorious in Conference USA tournament

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The University of Southern Mississippi captured the Conference USA tournament with a 3-2 victory over Rice in Sunday’s championship game at Pete Taylor Park on USM’s campus.
The third-seeded Golden Eagles trailed fourth-seeded Rice, 1-0, after two innings, but USM tied the game with a run in the fourth.
Southern Miss went in front for the first time, 2-1, in the eighth before adding one in the ninth. Rice scored once in the bottom of the ninth, but came up short, as USM captured the Conference USA tournament.
Five USM pitchers combined to allow two earned runs on 10 hits with four strikeouts and just two walks.
The Golden Eagles went 4-0 in the tournament. They won the opener on Wednesday, May 25, with a 17-5 victory over sixth-seeded Old Dominion.
Clay Tageant, a 2011 Franklinton High School graduate, pitched a scoreless inning in relief of that game.
This season, Tageant has appeared in 13 games, all out of the bullpen, and has allowed one run over 10-2/3 innings for an 0.84 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .167 against the right-hander.
USM followed up the win by defeating Marshall, 9-3, the following day.
That put the Golden Eagles into the semifinals, where they topped Marshall, 3-2, Saturday before coming back Sunday and defeating Rice by the same score.
Winning the conference tournament secured an automatic bid into the NCAA regionals.
On Monday morning, destinations for the regionals were announced and USM is headed to Tallahassee, Fla. and is the No. 2 seed. The regional takes place Friday through Monday. The Golden Eagles will open the regional by playing the University of South Alabama at 11 a.m. Friday.
It is the 13th overall NCAA tournament appearance for USM and first since 2011.
USM enters with a 40-18 record while South Alabama is 40-20.
Top-seeded Florida State (37-20) faces fourth-seeded Alabama State (38-15) at 5 p.m. Friday.