April 22, 2009

Courtesy RiceOwls.com

AUSTIN - The Rice baseball team collected 13 hits and the Owl bullpen kept Texas off the scoreboard for the final four innings on the way to a 7-4 win over the Longhorns in a match-up of nationally-ranked rivals Tuesday night on the road in Austin.

Rice started the scoring in the top of the second inning and proceeded to put up runs through the fifth. In the second, Anthony Rendon was hit by a pitch and he hustled to third on Diego Seastrunk's single through the right side. Rendon scored when Ryan Lewis dropped a base-hit between three fielders in left-centerfield. Seastrunk went to third on a ground out and scored on Craig Manuel's single to left to make the score 2-0.

Texas came back with a run in the bottom of the inning. Kevin Keys led off with a double to center field. He scored on a one-out double to right-center by Preston Clark to make it 2-1.

The Owls battled for two more runs in the third. Brock Holt singled to start it off and he moved into scoring position on Jimmy Comerota's sacrifice bunt. A base hit by Rick Hague put runners on the corners. Holt came home on a single down the line by Rendon while Hague dug for third. Seastrunk drove a pitch to the warning track in right that allowed Hague to score for a 4-1 lead.

The Longhorns added a run in its at bat to cut the margin in half. A leadoff walk to Michael Torrres and two wild pitches handcuffed the Owls' cause. With one away Holt made a spectacular sliding catch in foul territory on the right side for the second out, but Torres was able to score on the play.

The Blue & Gray took advantage of a Texas miscue for a run in the fourth. Manuel stroked a double down the right-field line and was able to take third on a Longhorn fielding error. He scored on Comerota's ground out for a 5-2 Rice advantage.

Rice rallied for a run with two away in the fifth for its fourth-straight inning to score. Jeremy Rathjen came off the bench and delivered a pinch-hit double off the wall in right. Michael Fuda followed with a triple to the gap in right-center that stretched the margin to its largest of the night, 6-2.

Texas would not go away so easy and posted a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Brandon Belt walked with one away and Tant Shepherd doubled to center field. Two wild pitches allowed both runs to score and the lead was back down to two, 6-4.

The Owls added a final insurance run of the night in the eighth. Fuda started it with a base-hit up the middle and advanced on a sac bunt by Manuel. The sophomore from Katy, Tex., dashed home for a 7-4 lead on a Sultzbaugh single into center.

Sophomore Abe Gonzales started on the mound for Rice and was followed by Travis Wright and Matt Evers. Senior Jordan Rogers entered the game in the fifth and worked out of a jam. He proceeded to work 2.2 innings and was credited with his team-leading sixth win of the season after allowing just one hit while striking out one. Seastrunk came out of the bullpen for the second time this season and faced two batters. True freshman Taylor Wall pitched the last 2.0 innings and earned his first career save. Taylor allowed just one walk and no hits in a solid performance that closed the door.

Holt, Fuda, Manuel and Sultzbaugh all finished with two hits on a 13-hit night. Rice is now 28-10 on the season. The Owls have defeated Texas four-straight times dating back to last season. Texas fell to 29-9 on the year and saw its win-streak snapped at 10-straight games.

The game is the Owls' last until April 29 while Rice University is in its final exams for the spring semester. The Blue & Gray returns to action on the 29th with a home game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. First pitch with the Islanders is set for 6 pm at Reckling Park.