March 14, 2009

Courtesy of Rice Athletics

HOUSTON - Rice junior pitcher Ryan Berry posted his third complete game victory in a row, a one-hitter with no walks and eight strikeouts, to lead the No. 5 Owls' baseball team to a 4-1 win over visiting No. 20 San Diego in the second game of a four-game weekend series Friday evening at Reckling Park.

As he has done in each of the last two starts in convincing wins over Texas A&M and Notre Dame, Berry kept the Toreros in check for nine full frames. The right-hander from Humble, Tex., had a perfect game through six innings before hitting the USD leadoff batter, Kevin Muno, to start the seventh. Muno advanced around the bases on consecutive ground outs and scored on a dropped fly ball by the Owls in the outfield.

The unearned run snapped a streak where Berry had pitched 26.1 consecutive innings without allowing any runs. It also cut the Rice lead in the game to a narrow 3-1 margin with quite a bit of baseball left to play.

The Owl offense gave Berry a lead with three runs in the fifth. Freshman catcher Craig Manuel was safe at first on a USD fielding error and Steven Sultzbaugh punched a one-out base hit through the left side. Jimmy Comerota reached on a fielder's choice where all the runners were safe and the bases now loaded. A wild pitch scored Manuel and a two-out single by Chad Mozingo scored Sultzbaugh and Comerota for a 3-0 lead.

San Diego had its first base runner in the in the seventh and tallied its lone hit of the night in the eighth. Torero first baseman Bryan Haar stroked a two-out double toward the left field corner that brought the potential tying run to the plate. Berry worked out of the jam and the Owls answered with one more insurance run in the bottom of the frame. Freshman Anthony Rendon slugged a solo home run to center field with one away. His fourth round-tripper of the year gave Rice a 4-1 lead for good.
Berry finished the complete-game effort with a 1-2-3 ninth. He won for the third time in as many starts and lowered his season ERA to 1.42. The victory was his 22nd as an Owl and he increased his career strikeout total to 242.

Rice improved to 10-4 on the season. The Toreros fell to 8-9 overall. The same two teams are scheduled to continue the four-game series at Reckling Park through Sun. (Mar. 15). Remaining game times are set for 2 pm on Saturday and 1 pm in the series finale.