Knights drop CUSA home opener to Southern Miss


ORLANDO, Fla (AP) (AP)ong> - In its home opener in Conference USA, the UCF baseball team was unable to improve its perfect record in league play as it lost game one to Southern Miss, 4-1, in front of 1,673 fans Friday night at the UCF baseball complex.


Despite 7 1/3 innings of four-hit ball on the mound, RHP Ben Lively saw his record drop to 5-2 after surrendering a pair of unearned runs. He was able to strand six runners while striking out four and lowered his season ERA to 0.35.


The Knights and Golden Eagles continue the series on Friday at 6:30 p.m. It will be “Country Knight” out at the ballpark with a pair of Taylor Swift tickets up for grabs.


In the bottom of the first, senior Chris Taladay (1-for2, 1 RBI, 2 BB) made Southern Miss pay with a two-out, two-strike double down the right-field line to score centerfielder JoMarcos Woods (1-for-4) for his 235th-career hit as a Knight, tying him for No. 9 all-time with Chris Duffy (2007-10).


Southern Miss took advantage of a hit-by-pitch and throwing error with two outs in the top of the fourth to even the game at 1-all. Lively was able to get out of the frame with a great pick-off move to catch the runner napping at first base.


The righty showed off some athleticism again in the fifth, snagging a bunt out of the air as he tailed off the mound to the right side while picking off a runner again at first to end the frame.


In the top of the eighth, Lively was lifted after reaching 130 pitches and runners were at the corners with one out. Rookie RHP Zac Favre would enter as the Golden Eagles took advantage of a fielding error by him to plate an unearned run and take a 2-1 lead. The Jacksonville native would buckle down, however, and strike out the final two batters.


USM added to its two-run advantage in the top of the eighth, plating two runs on a pair of bases-loaded walks. The Knights were unable to rally in the ninth as reliever Jay Myrick closed out the game despite a walk to Taladay.


Keeping the UCF bats at bay for the Golden Eagles was lefty Jake Drehoff (1-3). He tossed eight innings of four-hit ball and allowed just the unearned run in the first.