Feb. 12, 2006
HOUSTON - Trailing 6-5 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rice baseball team exploded for seven runs and sent 12 men to the plate to lift the second-ranked Owls to a 12-6 win over longtime rival TCU in the Sunday finale of the Houston College Classic Tournament held downtown at Minute Maid Park.
Rice trailed 6-2 midway through the contest but cut the margin to one in the sixth on the shoulders of a three-run homer by junior all-America candidate Josh Rodriguez. The Owls put two men on base in the seventh but failed to convert the opportunities to runs. The team made up for it in the seventh with its biggest inning of the young season.
Sophomore Chad Lembeck sparked the team with a leadoff double and a pair of walks loaded the bases. Sophomore Brian Friday connected for his third hit of the game with a single through the left side to tie the game 6-6. Sophomore Danny Lehmann was hit by a pitch to give the Owls a 7-6 lead but the scores didn't stop. Five more runs came across on a single, a sacrifice, a second hit batter and fielder's choice that resulted in a TCU fielding error.
When the dust cleared Rice notched its fourth win of the season by scoring 12 runs on 11 hits. Friday led the team with three hits and a walk. He hit .385 for the three-day tournament and was named to the all-Classic team along with second baseman Greg Buchanan and pitcher Cole St.Clair. Buchanan hit .364 with two runs, two RBI and a steal. St.Clair was brilliant working two games out of the bullpen. He had a win and a save and did not allow a run in 5.0 innings while striking out nine.
Rice opened the scoring of what began as a pitcher's duel in the bottom of the fourth inning. Lehmann hit a two-out double down the left field line and scored on Adam Zornes' first career base hit with a liner into center.
TCU came right back with a four runs in the top of the fifth on four hits a walk. Andrew Walker led off with a double to right field and scored on a one out single by Austin Adams. Ryan Pack clubbed a two-run homer to Minute Maid Park's Crawford Boxes to make the score 3-1. The Horned Frogs proceeded to add another run for a 4-1 lead.
Rice was able to get one run back in the bottom of the frame. Lembeck led off with a walk and advanced to second on a two-out walk by Friday. Lehmann reached on a TCU fielding error that loaded the bases and Lembeck came home on a passed ball. The Horned Frogs answered with two runs in the top of the sixth on Pack's second homer of the game that made the score 6-2. The Rice rally was on from there.
The Owls return to action next weekend in the first of the team's two home tournaments this season. Rice hosts Long Beach State, Oklahoma and Lamar at the Coca-Cola Classic Tournament Feb. 17-19 at Reckling Park. The round-robin tournament features two games each of the three days.