May 29, 2009

Courtesy: Rice Sports Properties

Houston, TEXAS - Mike Ojala pitched seven strong innings and Chad Mozingo banged out three hits to lead the Rice Owls to a 5-2 victory over Sam Houston State in the first round of the NCAA Baseball Regional at Reckling Park in Houston.

The Owls were making their 100th appearance in an NCAA tournament game, but before they could run their all-time record to 67-33, they had to battle back from an early deficit.

The Bearkats broke on top when Ryan Mooney drilled the first pitch he saw for a solo homer in the top of the first. Rice struck back to tie it in the second when Michael Fuda drilled a shot to first base and then beat first baseman Daniel Nottebart to the bag while Anthony Rendon raced home from third.

The Owls took the lead in the third on a Rick Hague RBI single then took advantage of a pair of Bearkat errors to add a third run in the fifth. With two out, Jimmy Comerota reached on a throwing error by Sam Houston's Jon Reed.

Brock Holt doubled to right to move Comerota to third and he scored after righfielder Tyler Knight's throw home bounced away from catcher Mark Wyatt.

Rice starter Mike Ojala scattered seven hits over seven innings and was backed by solid fielding by the Owls. With the Owls holding a 2-1 lead, Michael Fuda cut down Bearkat catcher Jon Reed at the plate trying score to end one threat. After Sam Houston had put a pair of runners on with two outs in the fifth, Ojala rallied to strike out SHS leading hitter Nick Zaleski to end the threat.

Rice added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth thanks to an RBI single by Ryan Lewis and a bases loaded walk to Holt.

Reliever Mark Haynes came on in relief of Ojala in the eighth to work the final two innings and pick up his first save of the year and the second of his career.

With the win, the Owls will move on to meet Kansas State in the winner's bracket game at 6 pm. Sam Houston will come back at 2 pm tomorrow to meet Xavier in the elimination game.