HATTIESBURG – The 2011 Conference USA baseball regular-season championship will be decided this weekend in a three-game series at Pete Taylor Park.
The series matches league-leading Southern Miss against second-place Rice, which comes into the action a game behind the Golden Eagles in the standings.
The three-game set opens today with a 6 p.m., contest, followed by a 6 p.m., tilt on Friday and a 1 p.m., first pitch on Senior Day this Saturday. Thursday’s game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
In the 16 years of league play, this will be the first time the championship will be decided in head-to-head play in the final series.
The Golden Eagles, which have accumulated a 22-3 home record in 2011, need to win at least two games in the series to win the championship outright. Should Rice win two games, the teams would tie for the league crown and the Owls would take the No. 1 seed into next week’s 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Should Rice sweep the series, they would win the league outright.
The two teams have battled each other for the league’s tournament title in each of the the previous two seasons, as Rice captured the 2009 tournament 8-6 in Hattiesburg, while Southern Miss collected a 7-4 decision in last season’s title game which was played at Cougar Field in Houston.
The Golden Eagles (37-13 overall, 15-6 C-USA) look to rebound from dropping just their second league series of the spring last weekend at Houston, while Rice (36-17, 14-7) took two of three from Memphis at home and then defeated Texas State, 6-4, at Reckling Park Tuesday night.
The Owls lead the overall series 12-6 which dates back to 2006, but the two schools have split the last six games 3-3.
Southern Miss has led the league race for most of the season, garnering three sweeps, coming UCF, Marshall and UAB.
From school reports