Feb. 11, 2007
HOUSTON -- For the second time in the Houston College Classic and third time in five games to start the young season, the Rice baseball team saw a lead evaporate in the late innings. In the final game of the annual tournament Sunday evening at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston, the Owls dropped a 4-2 decision to longtime rival Texas A&M before a full-session crowd of 10,378.
Rice opened the scoring in the top of the third with a pair of runs. Junior J.P. Padron was hit by a pitch to lead it off and he stole second to move into scoring position. Tyler Henley drew a walk and Chad Lembeck followed with a double to left to drive both men home.
Junior starting pitcher Joe Savery was sharp in his second start of the season. The left-hander from Houston allowed just one hit and struck out three in a predetermined 4.0 innings of work.
The Aggies came alive with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game. Craig Stinson led off with a solo home run to right field and Brian Ruggiano and Luke Anders strung together back-to-back hits. Ruggiano came home on a ground out that made the score 2-2.
The Owls bullpen walked Stinson to leadoff the seventh and the free pass proved costly. Stinson scored on a two-out double to left-center by Anders that gave the Aggies a 3-2 advantage. It happened again in the eighth when Aggie outfielder Ben Feltner drew a leadoff walk, stole second and third, and scored on a two-out single by Stinson that stretched the lead to the 4-2 final.
Rice, now 2-3, finished with just four hits on the night. The team's only extra-base hit was by Lembeck, who earned selection to the Classic's all-tournament team after going 5-for-12 (.417) with three RBI against the weekend's elite competition. Rice junior Brian Friday and freshman pitcher Ryan Berry also earned all-tournament honors. Texas A&M improved its record to 3-1.
The Owls next return home to Reckling Park to begin an eight-game homestand. Rice hosts Texas-San Antonio at 4 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 13. The Blue & Gray hosts national power Long Beach State in a three-game weekend series Friday through Sunday, Feb. 16-18.