UTSA upsets 11th-ranked Southern Miss in opening round of Conference USA Tournament, 9-2
BILOXI, Miss. — They say it is difficult to defeat an opponent four times in a row and UTSA proved it on the opening day of The First, A National Banking Association, Conference USA Tournament behind a masterful pitching performance from Burlington, Ont., native Steven Dressler to defeat No. 11 Southern Miss by a score of 9-2 on Wednesday at MGM Park.
The left-handed Dressler held the Golden Eagles to two runs in 7 2/3 frames of work, scattering eight hits and five walks while striking out four. Meanwhile, Karl Craigie quieted the Southern Miss bats with 1 1/3 perfect innings out of the bullpen.
The Roadrunners (29-26) were aggressive at the plate, registering 11 hits on the day with seven of those going for doubles.
C.J. Pickering hit a double in each of his first three at-bats to set the Conference USA Tournament record while also matching a UTSA single-game mark. Pickering finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate with two runs and a pair of RBIs.
UTSA drew blood early in the contest with a pair of runs in the opening frame. A leadoff double from Kevin Markham followed by a ground out and fielding error allowed Markham to cross home plate. The Roadrunners plated its second run of the stanza on the team's second double of the inning, which came off the bat of Pickering.
Southern Miss (44-13), which saw the nation's longest current win streak snapped at 14 games, responded in the home half with a lone run to make it 2-1.
In the third, UTSA registered three more doubles, which resulted in another two runs.
However, Southern Miss took back a run in the bottom half of the frame on a Taylor Braley solo home run, which made the score 4-2.
A four-run fourth inning gave UTSA the cushion it needed to last the rest of the game. Eight Roadrunners made a plate appearance in the inning and three hits, a pair of walks and a balk accounted for the runs.
Markham led off the inning with his second double of the game and moved up a base on a Bryan Arias' fly out. Markham then came home on Trent Bowles' RBI single. Bowles then stole his 10th base of the season and made his way to third on a wild pitch. He scored on Pickering's RBI double. Ben Brookover and Pickering were the final runs of the inning, as they scored on a sacrifice fly and balk.
Jesse Baker capped off the scoring for UTSA in the sixth on his 12th home run of the season that sailed over the video board in left field.
The Roadrunners now have won four games against ranked opponents this season, which surpasses the previous program record of two.
UTSA will face the winner of Wednesday's No. 4 Charlotte/No. 5 Louisiana Tech contest at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.