Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (email@example.com)
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Rice baseball team scored all five of its runs over the final three innings and then held-off a ninth-inning UCF rally to claim a 5-4 victory over the No. 22 ranked Knights at John Euliano Park in Orlando, Fla.
The contest between the former Conference USA rivals began as a pitchers' duel, with Rice's Matt Canterino and UCF's Joe Sheridan both firing scoreless frames for the first five innings. Canterino posted eight strikeouts working into the sixth, but was charged with a pair of runs as the Knights took a 2-0 advantage.
The Owls cut the margin to 2-1 with a run in the top of the seventh, and then moved in front in the eighth, 3-2, with a dramatic two-run homer by true freshman Justin Collins for his first collegiate hit. The Blue & Gray added a two more runs in the ninth to stretch the lead to 5-2.
Working for the extra scores proved to be crucial as nationally-ranked UCF would not go away so quietly at home. In the bottom of the ninth the Knights rallied for a pair of runs to make the score 5-4 and loaded the bases with two away. UCF lined a pitch high and hard that was sizzling toward left field, but Rice junior shortstop Ford Proctor snared the ball for the game's final out with a sensational leaping grab.
Rice secured the 5-4 win and is now 2-0 on the season. UCF is 1-1 overall. The season-opening tournament concludes on Sunday (Feb. 18). The Owls face No. 15 ranked Virginia at 9 am Central Time.