Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AUSTIN -- Junior Dane Myers pitched six quality innings on the mound, had two hits at the plate and scored what proved to be the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning to help pace the Rice baseball team to a 3-2 road victory at Texas in the 2017 season-opener for both teams Friday evening at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin.
Myers started on the mound on opening day, pitched a career-long 6.0 innings scattering four hits without any walks and striking out three. The right-hander from Katy, Texas, also served as the Owls' designated hitter, where he singled and scored a go-ahead run in the sixth that put Rice in front, 2-1. He then played third base for the final three frames.
With the score knotted-up 2-2 to start the final inning, Myers collected his second hit of the night with a single through the left side. He advanced to second on a passed ball, took third on Dominic DiCaprio's sacrifice bunt, and scored on a tricky grounder to third that Rice front 3-2.
The Owl bullpen of Evan Kravetz and Zach Esquivel closed out the bottom of the ninth to secure the opening day win. The team had only four hits on the crisp night, but made the most of its late chances after Texas held firm early when Rice had runners in scoring position in both of the first two innings.
Texas opened the scoring early before the Owls could help themselves get out of harm's way. In the bottom of the second centerfielder Ryan Chandler got his glove on the ball while diving for Bret Boswell's shallow fly, but couldn't hang on as he crashed into Disch-Falk Field's artificial surface.
Not only was Boswell able to reach base, he was in scoring position with a leadoff double. The Blue & Gray came up just short trying to make a play on Michael Cantu's foul near the stands past the first base side. Cantu was still alive, and followed with a single to left to put runners at the corners. Then instead of a possible inning-ending fly out, Kacy Clemens' sacrifice put the Horns in front 1-0.
Credit Texas starting pitcher Morgan Cooper with holding Rice to just one hit and striking out six through the first five frames. The Owls broke through for a pair of runs in the top of the sixth. Chandler drew a leadoff walk and after a pair of outs Myers battled in his at bat to lace a single up the middle. DiCaprio easily drove both runners home with a hard double to left-center and Rice was now in front 2-1.
Texas came right back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Kody Clemens' two-out solo homer near the right field corner evened the score at 2-2.
Kravetz relieved Myers to start the seventh and posted 2.1 shutout innings with a pair of strikeouts to earn the second win of his collegiate career. He was replaced by Esquivel with one out in the bottom of the ninth, who retired both of the batters he faced for his first career save.
The same two teams are back in action again on Saturday (Feb. 18) in a double-header. First pitch of the opening game of the twinbill is set for 3 pm. Sunday's series finale is schedule for a 12 noon start (a time change from some earlier listings due to weather conditions expected for the area).