Feb. 19, 2006
HOUSTON - Sophomore pitcher Bobby Bell was solid in working 7.1 innings and sophomore right fielder Chad Lembeck blasted a grand slam home run to help lift the second-ranked Rice baseball team to a 7-1 win over visiting Lamar in the final game of the Coca-Cola Classic Tournament Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park.
With the starting pitchers locked-in to what looked like would be low-scoring duel due to weather conditions that dipped into the 30s, Rice appeared to be manufacturing just a single run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Owls, however, exploded for six to break the game wide open.
Brian Friday led off with a double down the left field line and Greg Buchanan moved him up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt. Josh Rodriguez needed only a fly ball to score Friday fro mthird, but he doubled to left-center to give the Owls a 1-0 lead. A fielder's choice by Danny Lehmann, a walk by Joe Savery and a two-out RBI single by Jordan Dodson made it 2-0. Aaron Luna drew a walk to load the bases and the next batter, Lembeck, blasted a grand slam to left field. Lembeck's second homer of the season cleared the bases and stretched the margin to 6-0.
That proved to be more than enough room for Bell, who scattered six hits, did not allow a walk and stuck out six in a season-long 7.1 innings to move to 2-0. When Lamar had a base runner, Bell had an answer. He picked a man of first base in the top of the first and induced a 4-6-3 double-play ground ball in the fourth. When the Cardinals' leadoff batter reached on an error to start the sixth, the right-hander from Aledo struck out the next two hitters and ended the inning with another infield grounder.
Lamar's lone run was a solo homer by Collin DeLome to start the seventh. The Owls answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the frame off a walk and an error to take a 7-1 lead. Bell worked into the eighth and was relieved by Cole St.Clair and Bryce Cox.
Rice improved to 6-2 on the season. Lamar fell to 4-5. In Sunday's first game of the Classic, Oklahoma defeated Long beach State in 2-1 pitcher's duel. Oklahoma, Long Beach and host Rice all went 2-1 in the first of the Owls' two annual tournaments.
The Owls next host longtime rival Sam Houston State on Feb. 21. First pitch is slated for 4 pm at Reckling Park. The Owls then host Nebraska, Texas State and St. John's in the Rice Invitational tournament Feb. 24-26.