May 20, 2009

Courtesy of Rice Athletics

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Rice baseball team pounded out 13 runs on 16 hits, but didn't really need all the offensive fireworks thanks to a complete-game shutout effort on the mound by true freshman left-hander Taylor Wall in the Owls' 13-0 victory over Marshall in the opening round game of the Conference USA Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss. Rice next meets streaking UAB in the winner's bracket game of the tournament on Thursday (May 21) at 4 pm.

Earlier in the week Wall was named to the annual C-USA All-Freshman team for a steady debut season at the Division I level. On Wednesday the young standout from Houston's Westside High School looked more like a First Team All-Conference selection. Wall handcuffed the Thundering Herd to just three singles while matching his longest outing of the season at 7.0 innings. He also walked a four Marshall batters but was never in any real danger as the Owls erased runners with a pair of double plays. Only one Herd batter reached second base and when that happened in the fourth inning, the former high school pitcher of the year for the Houston area ended the threat with a strikeout. Wall finished with five strikeouts on the day to give him a team-leading total of 71 for the season.

Wall was in control and relaxed because the Rice offense was just as hot spotting him a big 7-0 lead after two innings. In the bottom of the first shortstop Rick Hague laced a one-out double to left and scored on a single to right by Diego Seastrunk. Anthony Rendon singled to put runners on first and second and Michael Fuda drove in two runs with a two-out double to the gap in right-center.
 
The Owls were already up 3-0 when they went deep with the longball for a four-run second. Jimmy Comerota led off with a single and moved to scoring position on a walk to Brock Holt. Hague singled-home Comerota to make it 4-0. Anthony Rendon then blasted a three-run homer to left-center field to clear bases and stretch the margin to 7-0. The homer was Rendon's team-leading 18th of the year and gave him a total of 61 RBI in the team's 51st game.

The Blue & Gray put the lead into double-digits with three in the fifth. A single by Sultzbaugh and double by Comerota put runners on second and third with one out. Both scored on Jess Buenger's single into center that made it 9-0. Hits by Holt and Hague plated Buenger for a 10-0 cushion.

Rice added its final three runs in its last at bat in the sixth. Rendon drew a leadoff walk and went to third on a double by Mozingo. Rendon scored and Mozingo dug for third on a Marshall wild pitch. He scored on a two-base Thundering Herd fielding error off the bat of Fuda. Fuda came home for the game's final run on Sultzbaugh's third hit of the day.

On the offensive side every Rice batter had a hit to contribute to the team total of 16. Hague led the way with a 4-for-4 afternoon that included double and two RBI. Sultzbaugh had a double as part of his three hits. Rendon and Fuda both drove-in three of the runs on the day.

The Owls improved to 36-15 on the season. Marshall fell to 22-31. Rice advances to face UAB in the winner's bracket game of the tournament on Thursday (May 21). First pitch with the Blazers is set for 4 pm. The game will be broadcast live on the radio in the Houston area on KTRU (91.7 FM). The C-USA Tournament concludes with a 1 pm championship game on Sunday (May 24).