Southern Miss falls to Florida Atlantic in C-USA Baseball Tournament

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 24, 2015

HATTIESBURG – Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said he believes that the Golden Eagles season-long resume is good enough to get his club into the NCAA postseason.

He and the Golden Eagles will find out Monday morning if the selection committee agrees with him.

Southern Miss (36-18-1) was eliminated Friday night from the 2015 Conference USA Baseball Championship, presented by Petro Nissan, dropping a 5-4 decision to Florida Atlantic at Pete Taylor Park.

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The Golden Eagles finished 1-2 in the tournament, but padded their resume with a tournament win Thursday to collect their 14th victory in their last 16 games.

“It’s unfortunate we leave here (Friday) with a loss, but I feel like there’s a strong possibility that we keep playing from here,” Berry said. “We’ll find out on Monday, and I know certain things have to happen.

“But if the committee looks at what we’ve done down the stretch, and what we’ve done over the course of the season in all honesty, and they keep that in perspective, I think we certainly warrant one of the 64 (slots).”

Third-seeded and tourney host Southern had hoped to keep playing this weekend, and had grabbed a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning on Chase Scott’s RBI double, Matt Durst’s run-scoring single and Austin Roussel’s sacrifice fly.

But the second-seeded Owls, who are ranked as high as No. 19 in the national polls, knocked out Golden Eagle starting pitcher Cord Cockrell in the bottom of the inning.

After Stephen Kerr doubled and scored on Billy Endris’ single to cut the FAU deficit to 3-2 to open the inning, Southern Miss left-hander Luke Lowery (2-4) struck out Conference USA Player of the Year Brenden Saenger for the first out.

But Lowery gave up a two-strike single to Ricky Santiago that scored Endris and tied the game. Lowery struck out Roman Collins for the second out, but Esteban Puerta walked and Christian Dicks was hit by a pitch to load the bases before C.J. Chatham singled to left to give FAU a 5-3 lead.

Southern Miss got within one run in the eighth inning, when pinch runner Daniel Keating came around to score on Roussel’s single and a throwing error by Saenger in right field.

But after Connor Barron walked and was sacrificed to second base, he was caught at third base trying to move up on a grounder and FAU’s fifth pitcher of the night, Seth McGarry, struck out Scott on three pitches to end the game.

“We had (a leadoff) single, then the double, then we had two, two-out hits, and it was huge,” FAU coach John McCormack said of the big inning. “These guys just battled back and I’m very proud of them.

“We easily, in our situation could have said, `Hey, you’re going to the (NCAA) tournament. Let’s just get home,’ and they didn’t.”

FAU (40-16) will face sixth-seeded UAB (32-24) at 12:30 p.m. in a championship bracket game.

McCormack said he was impressed with Friday night’s 2,457.

“This was a neat atmosphere for our guys to be in,” he said. “Miami and Florida and some other places, but we don’t get this much. This was a great crowd.”

FAU reliever Reily Monkman (6-1) picked up the win, while McGarry recorded his fifth save.

Durst had three of USM’s seven hits, while Roussel added two. Collins led FAU with two two hits.

Southern Miss Media Relations