May 17, 2007
HOUSTON - Southern Miss righthander Ryan Belanger struck out eight while scattering four hits to lead the Golden Eagles to a 6-0 win over the University of Houston baseball team Thursday night during the opener of a Conference USA series at Cougar Field.
Belanger, who improved to 7-4 with the win, kept the Cougar sluggers off balance all night and retired 14 of 15 batters midway through the contest.
Meanwhile, the USM offense grabbed its first lead with two runs in the sixth inning and broke the game wide open with four more runs in the seventh.
Trey Sutton went 2-for-5 with a run, while Jody Blount batted 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI to lead the Golden Eagle offense, which outhit the Cougars 10-4. Luke Adkins also batted 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Sophomore catcher Luis Flores went 2-for-3 to account for half of the Cougar offense in the losing effort.
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 28-24 overall and 12-10 in C-USA games overall. Southern Miss improved to 35-19 overall and 12-10 in C-USA games. The Cougars also fell into a three-way tie for third place with Southern Miss and Memphis, which was a 6-4 loser at No. 2 Rice.
The Cougars continue the series at 7 p.m., Friday before wrapping up at 1 p.m., Saturday. Fans can hear Cougar Baseball games live on UHCougars.com with former Cougar letterwinners Nick Torina and Pat Cauley calling all the action. Fans always can follow live stats by clicking on the "Gametracker" link on the front page of UHCougars.com or on the "Schedule and Results" page off the Baseball main page.
Fans should note that the Southern Miss series begins on Thursday instead of Friday as in other weekend series to help team travel plans to next week's C-USA Tournament in Greenville, N.C.
Redshirt freshman southpaw Wes Musick will make his 14th start of the season Saturday during the middle game of the Southern Miss series. This season, the Lufkin native has posted a 6-3 record with 64 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA in 78.1 innings. He also ranks third among all C-USA pitchers with a 2.25 ERA in league games only.
Musick enters this weekend's series on a career-best four-game winning streak. He has not collected a loss since dropping an 8-2 decision to Northwestern State on March 3 in the middle game of that non-conference series.
He leads all Cougar pitchers in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched and opponents' batting average (.221) and is one of only five players in C-USA to rank among the Top Eight individual leaders in all pitching Triple Crown categories. In addition, he was named the C-USA Pitcher of the Week on March 26 after striking out 10 batters while allowing only five hits in eight shutout innings during the middle game of the UCF series on March 24.
Musick is the only Cougar pitcher this season that has not made an appearance out of the bullpen. In addition, he earned the Cougars' Opening Day start against Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 6, becoming the first freshmen hurler since Jason Hart against Texas Southern on Feb. 7, 1991 to accomplish that feat.
In his last start, Musick allowed five runs (four earned) off nine hits and four walks with a strikeout in five innings. However, he did not pick up a decision as the Tigers rallied in the seventh inning to take a 16-10 win over the Cougars. It tied as his shortest outing against a C-USA opponent this season.
Friday's game will be Musick's first career appearance against the Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss is scheduled to counter with righthander Barry Bowden. This season, Bowden has compiled a 6-3 record with 71 strikeouts and a 3.82 ERA in 75.1 innings.
The Golden Eagles struck for the game's first runs in the sixth inning. Brian Dozier led off with a double to left field and moved to third when Blount reached on a Cougar miscue in the infield. Michael Ewing grounded out to first base, allowing Dozier to score and moving Blount to second base. Blount moved to third base on a deep fly ball to center field and gave the Golden Eagles a 2-0 lead on James Ewing's RBI-single up the middle.
One inning later, the Golden Eagles broke the game open with four runs off four hits. Chris Matesich started the scoring with an RBI-single and Michael Ewing's groundout scored Sutton before Adkins' two-out, two-run single handed USM a 6-0 advantage.