By Al Jones/The Sun Herald (MCT)
HATTIESBURG – Southern Miss continues to struggle on the baseball field after losing a Conference USA series at Marshall.
Despite winning the first two games of the week — against UNO and the opening game of the Marshall series — the Golden Eagles take a two-game losing streak to Ole Miss tonight.
After beating Marshall 16-7 behind picher Scott Copeland, Southern Miss saw the Thundering Herd come back with a pair of 6-3 wins on Saturday and Sunday.
The Saturday loss dropped Todd McInnis to 2-4 after the Herd scored three runs late.
”I do not know what to think,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “This is very frustrating. Pitching-wise, we did okay this past weekend. We made strides in getting better in pitching. But we took a step back offensively. We came out Friday and scored 16 runs on eight hits and five home runs,
”On Saturday, we strike out 15 times and only make them handle the ball 12 times. Then, we get three hits on Sunday. That’s frustrating. We can’t seem to get any balance in what we are doing. I do know the guys in the middle of the lineup are not getting the big hits.”
The two losses dropped Southern Miss to 18-16 overall and in last place in Conference USA at 2-7.
At this point in the season, Southern Miss would not qualify for the C-USA Tournament next month in Houston. The top six teams will qualify, meaning the final three teams will be left out.
Still, Southern Miss only trails C-USA leader Rice (8-4) by three games in the loss column.
Southern Miss will host seventh-place Houston (16-18, 4-5) at Pete Taylor Park in a crucial C-USA series this weekend.
Memphis, Marshall and Central Florida are tied for third and would join Rice, East Carolina and Tulane in the tournament field if the season was over today.
”We have our work cut out,” Berry said.
”In this league, we are seeing a lot of parity. Traditionally, we just got through playing the three teams that have been in the bottom (UAB, Central Florida and Marshall).
”The ones in front are normally on the higher side. Certainly, anybody can beat anybody. We are not doing what it takes to win at this time.”
Freshman Geoffrey Thomas (1-3, 8.44 ERA) will start against the Rebels, who beat Southern Miss 11-6 on March 23 in Pearl.
”Geoffrey will start but we will roll this thing and use a lot of pitchers,” Berry said. “Ole Miss is tough and it’s always a good, tough game when we play each other. We are looking forward to the challenge.”