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Grand slam lifts USM past Rice in series finale

HATTIESBURG — Matt Durst capped a five-run six inning with a grand slam to lift Southern Miss to an 8-6 Conference USA baseball victory over No. 11 Rice Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field to salvage the final game of the three-game series.

The Golden Eagles (26-19 overall, 14-7 C-USA) rallied from a pair of deficits in the contest to strengthen their hold on second place in league. Southern Miss now trails the Owls (31-15, 18-6) by two and a half games in the C-USA standings.

“We just needed (the win) not only for the conference standings, but we needed it for our confidence,” said Southern Miss coach Scott Berry. “We knew it was going to be tough against Rice. It always is. But (the sixth inning) was a pivotal inning for us. Rice doesn’t usually give you a lot of that. But we worked for it and we earned it.”

The Golden Eagles return to action Wednesday when they travel to Oxford to face nationally ranked Ole Miss in a 6:30 p.m., contest. It will be Southern Miss’ final non-conference game of the regular season.