March 1, 2009

Courtesy Rice Athletics

HOUSTON -- Junior Ryan Berry fired a complete-game, two-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts to lead the Rice Owls' baseball team to a 2-0 win over longtime rival Texas A&M to close out the second day of action at the Houston College Classic late Saturday night downtown at Minute Maid Park.

Berry handcuffed a Texas A&M team that was averaging more than nine runs per game, hitting a steady .311 as a team and ranked as high as No. 1 in the country, to just two hits without issuing any walks. The right-hander from Humble, Tex., was just one strikeout away from tying his career-high of 13 (set last season vs. Southern Miss). He notched the second complete-game shutout of his collegiate career and came up big when three Aggie pitchers were also combining for a solid effort on the mound in a tight game.

Playing as the visiting team in Saturday's edition of the annual tournament, Rice scored a key run in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Chad Mozingo laced a triple to center field and opportunistically scored on a wild pitch.

The Blue & Gray posted another run in the fourth when Rick Hague was hit by a pitch and Steven Sultzbaugh brought him home with a triple to right field. The triple doubled the margin to 2-0, but that would prove to be all the scoring in the game.

Berry hit a batter in the bottom of the second, but he retired the next 10 men in a row to keep a no-hitter alive for five innings. Before he had allowed any hits, two Rice defensive plays brought the fans to their feet. In the second inning third baseman Anthony Rendon picked a line drive that could have gone into the corner for extra bases. In the fifth, Sultzbaugh made a diving catch in center on a looping fly ball.

Brodie Greene led off the A&M sixth with a clean base hit and a wild pitch suddenly moved him into scoring position. Berry responded by striking out each of the next three batters to retire the side. Berry added two more Ks in the seventh and had a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth. He started the ninth with his 10th strikeout of the game, but Aggie leftfielder Brooks Raley followed with a double to left-center to try for one last rally. Berry countered with Ks on each of the last two hitters for another strikeout of the side and the end to a gem of a game.

It was Berry's first win of the year, but it was also the 20th of his collegiate career. The Owls moved to 4-2 on the season with the team's third-straight victory. Texas A&M fell to 6-2 on the year. Aggie pitchers Alex Wilson, Estevan Uriegas and Denny Clement played well to hold Rice to two runs on four hits and four walks with 10 strikeouts.