Rice’s Graham notches win No. 900
Owls’ head coach picks up 900th victory against Houston
HOUSTON -- Rice sophomore Michael Ratterree drove in three runs with a home run and a double to lead the Blue & Gray to an 8-2 Conference USA road win against crosstown rival Houston, but the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for Owl head coach Wayne Graham as he notched his 900th career-win at the helm of the baseball program Friday evening across town at UH's Cougar Field.
Coach Graham reached his 900th Division I win, and he mixed-in a couple other milestones with it on the side. In this, his 20th season on South Main, Rice (30-16) has now reached the 30-win plateau for a 19th consecutive season. Only five other schools in the country have longer active streaks of having won at least 30 games. With two earlier wins over Houston in March, the Owls also clinched the annual season-long best-of-five series against UH for the Silver Glove Trophy as the city's collegiate champion. Rice has now won 13 of the 14 series with the Cougars since play for The Glove began in 1998. The Owls won the trophy in its first two years and have held the hardware now for 11 years in a row.
After three scoreless frames the Owls put four big runs on the board in the top of the fourth. Keenan Cook led off with a single to center and J.T. Chargois placed a perfect bunt for a base hit that put runners on first and second. Cook sprinted home on a Cougar fielding error and Chargois hustled to third on the play. He scored on Craig Manuel's fielder's choice that made it 2-0. The Owls doubled the margin to 4-0 on a towering two-run homer to left by Ratterree. The longball was Ratterree's fifth of the season, and at that point his fifth hit in the Silver Glove Series.
Houston scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Cody Morehouse and Landon Appling both singled, and a Ryan Still sacrifice bunt advanced the runners into scoring position. Morehouse scored on a Caleb Ramsey single and Cokinos came home on a ground out that made it 4-2.
Rice came right back with three runs in the top of the sixth. Anthony Rendon drew a leadoff walk and scored from first base on a lining double to left by Ratterree. Shane Hoelscher walked and Ryan Lewis singled to right. Michael Fuda walked to load the bases and Hoelscher scored on a sacrifice fly by Derek Hamilton to make the score 7-2.
In the eighth, Lewis drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on Fuda's double to left. Hamilton followed with an RBI single for an 8-2 lead that closed-out the scoring.
Rice had a sound and solid effort on the mound from freshman starter Austin Kubitza. The right-hander from Colleyville, Tex., worked his way out of some early trouble to earn his fourth win of the season. Kubitza allowed two earned runs on six hits over 7.2 innings. He struck out eight batters and did not issue any walks. He was relieved by Jeremy Fant, who fired 1.1 scoreless frames and struck out three of the four batters he faced.
The Owls improved to 30-16 on the season and 10-6 in Conference USA action. The Cougars are now 22-24 overall and 9-7 in league play.
Rice has secured the Silver Glove for another year, but there is still a more important aspect at stake in the weekend's crosstown series. The next two remaining games of the weekend set are critical C-USA league games, and the conference slate is far from over. Saturday's game of the crosstown rivalry (C-USA No. 2 and Silver Glove No. 4) is set for 3 pm Central Time. The contest will be televised by Comcast Sports Southwest (CSS) from UH's Cougar Field.