PEARL, Miss. (WTVA/USM Athletics) - Southern Miss finished the 2012 Conference USA Baseball Championship by scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh in beating No. 4-ranked and top-seed Rice 4-2 Saturday night at Trustmark Park.
The Golden Eagles finished their season 32-24 as they captured their 11th consecutive winning season. Rice fell to 40-17.
Michael Sterling and Ashley Graeter each led Southern Miss with two hits each.
Golden Eagle Blake Brown battled Rice reliever Taylor Wall for 10 pitches before drawing a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the seventh to give the Golden Eagles the go-ahead run. Bradley Roney then added an RBI single to account for the final Southern Miss run.
The Owls put together a pair of hits in the first to take an early 1-0 advantage. With two outs, J.T. Chargois doubled and then Jeremy Rathjen delivered a single to centerfield to give Rice the early advantage.
Rice starter and C-USA Pitcher of the Year Matthew Reckling kept the Golden Eagles off the board until the fifth. With two away, Reckling hit Dillon Day with a pitch. After a Reckling wild pitch, Michael Sterling singled home Day from second giving him his sixth hit of the tournament.
Robbins then doubled to rightfield to drive home Sterling to put the Golden Eagles up 2-1.
The Owls tied the score in the sixth as Chargois singled home Christian Stringer, who started the inning with an infield single.
Cody Livingston (3-1) threw the final 2.1 innings for the Golden Eagles and fanned two batters to register the victory in relief of Mason Robbins who went 5.1 innings and Chase Horn who threw 1.1 innings.
The trio of USM pitchers combined for nine strikeouts.
Taylor Wall, the second of the three Owl pitchers, suffered the loss and fell to (6-4) overall.
With the victory over Rice, the Golden Eagles evened their season series with the Owls at two games apiece.