Feb. 15, 2014
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The Rice baseball team posted double-digit runs on 11 hits to claim a 10-3 victory over Stanford in the season-opener for both teams Friday evening in Palo Alto, Calif.
PALO ALTO, Calif. - The Rice baseball team protected a one-run lead with the bases-loaded in the seventh inning before pulling away for an eventual 5-1 win over No. 25 ranked Stanford in Saturday's second game of the three-game weekend series in Palo Alto, Calif.
With the second-straight victory over the Cardinal Rice clinched the series and improved to 2-0 on the season. The Owls also moved one game closer to securing the 1,000 Division I/Rice victory for Head Coach Wayne Graham at the helm of the program. He has a chance to notch his 1,000th Rice win Sunday in the series finale at Stanford set for 2 pm Central Time (noon Pacific).
Early in the contest Rice had no trouble getting men on base. Bringing the runners in was the next step the head coach wanted the team to take. The Owls however left the bases-loaded in the top of the first, stranded two more in both the second and third before leaving them full again in the fifth.
The Blue & Gray may not have had any runs to show for the early offense, but sophomore pitcher Blake Fox was sound and solid in keeping the Stanford hitters in check. The left-hander from Houston fired 6.0 scoreless frames in just the third start of his career, scattering a pair of hits and two walks while striking out three.
Rice finally opened the scoring with a run in the top of the seventh. Junior Skyler Ewing continued his hot hitting from opening day with a leadoff home run to left field on the first pitch. The round-tripper was Ewing's first of the season and fifth of his career. The Arlington, Texas, native had driven five of the team's 11 runs to that point of the season.
No sooner did the Owls get on the scoreboard than Stanford attempted a rally in the bottom of the frame. A leadoff walk and fielder's choice where the lead runner was safe quickly put two men on base. Coach Graham brought in junior right-hander Zech Lemond to stop the threat, and the Conference USA preseason pitcher of the year delivered.
Lemond got the first out at first base on a sacrifice bunt back to the mound. An intentional walk loaded the bases to set up a force, but it turned out not to be needed. Lemond struck out both of the next two batters to leave the bases loaded and the score at 1-0.
The Owls converted the emotional lift on defense into four runs on two hits in the top of the eighth. The big blows were doubles by the senior tandem of Shane Hoelscher and Michael Aquino that stretched the margin to a more-comfortable 5-1.
Stanford would not go away so easily at home and rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth in a 5-1 final. Lemond earned his first save of the season (for Fox, 1-0) by working 3.0 innings where he allowed one run on two hits while striking out four.
On the offensive side Ewing, Hoelscher, Ford Stainback and John Williamson all collected two hits. Rice reached ten hits for the second-straight game. The final game of the weekend set is slated for 2 pm Central Time (noon Pacific).
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