C-USA Tournament Championship Game: Southern Miss vs. Rice

The Conference USA Baseball Tournament concluded at MGM Park in Biloxi Sunday with a rematch between Southern Miss and Rice. Last year, the Golden Eagles beat the Owls in dramatic fashion to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. This year, the title game was yet another instant classic, just with a different outcome.
USM came in having played 20 more innings in the tournament than Rice, looking to come all the way out of the loser’s bracket.
Owls clinch an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 5-4 win, while Southern Miss is already looking ahead to returning to a regional for the second straight season.
News 25’s Jeff Haeger has a look back at the week that was for USM at MGM Park.
They say the sequel never tops the original and in the case of Southern Miss that couldn’t be more true. For the second year in a row, Championship Sunday was decided in the bottom of the ninth inning, only this time it ended with the Rice Owls walking it off with a 5-4 victory, as opposed to last year’s dog pile on the mound at Pete Taylor Park.
It was still a valiant effort from the Golden Eagles who ripped off four consecutive victories after falling to UTSA on day one of the Conference USA Tournament. USM Head Coach Scott Berry said, “We really had nothing to play for other than that tournament title, which is big, and that’s what I like about this team. They knew this was big, it didn’t matter. We had a game to play and we had an opportunity to win.”
USM First baseman Dylan Burdeaux said, “You know, I guess you can say Rice kind of owed us one after last year, so it’s definitely not the ending we wanted, but it showed the way this team competes, losing one game and winning four straight to get to a championship.”
USM Pitcher J.C. Keys said, “The main point of this weekend was not give up from that first game. A lot of people thought that we were just going to settle, like lay down from that first loss, but it showed that we had heart to be able to fight back.”
C-USA Tournament MVP Daniel Keating said, “I mean, I think we can just take a look back at the whole tournament and we battled, we battled our butts off the first couple games and came back. And I think this whole tournament has just been like a testament to how much of a team effort, like every single person stepped up.”
USM Second baseman Matthew Guidry said, “I wouldn’t say I learned anything about this team because it’s already known by just about everybody that’s watched us and followed us all year. I mean you kind of just re-instated the fact that we don’t quit.”
“We play as a team, and that’s why I think we’re going to do well the rest of this postseason because when you want to play for each other you’re usually going to be successful,” said Burdeaux.
Not the outcome USM was looking for in the title game, but there’s still plenty more at play for the Black and Gold who return to Hattiesburg as regional hosts for the first time since 2003 which also means there could still be more magic at the Pete, waiting in the on-deck circle.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *