Wayne Graham gets 1,000th win at Rice after 11th-inning walk-off
HOUSTON -- With no shortage of drama, Rice rallied for a 4-3 win in the bottom of the 11th inning in Tuesday night's home game against Texas State to give Owl head coach Wayne Graham his 1,000th victory at the school.
Now in his 23rd season at the helm of the program, Graham has amassed 1,000 wins while maintaining a steady .714 Division I win percentage that is the fourth-best in the nation among active coaches (minimum five years coaching). Under his leadership Rice has won 18 consecutive conference championships (including regular season or conference tournament titles) and been to NCAA regionals in each of the past 19 seasons. His 2003 Owl team won the NCAA national championship.
The Owls rallied from deficits two different times on Tuesday night. Texas State jumped on the scoreboard for a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first inning and held the lead until the Blue & Gray tied the game in the eighth on RBI singles by Skyler Ewing and John Clay Reeves.
Texas State threatened to go back in front in the top of the tenth after a leadoff double, but Graham immediately went to the bullpen for junior Zech Lemond who halted the threat with two strikeouts and a ground out. The Bobcats broke through with a run in the top of eleventh for new 3-2 advantage.
Rice answered with two runs with two out in the bottom of the frame. Leon Byrd drew a one-out walk and dashed to third on a single to right by freshman Charlie Warren, but Warren was retired while attempting to hustle an extra 90 feet to second base. Byrd scored on a double to right-center by Keenan Cook that made it 3-3. Cook sprinted home from second on a lining single to right by John Williamson for the 4-3 final.
Rice improved to 3-1 on the season. Texas State is now 2-2 overall.