Feb. 19, 2013
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HOUSTON - Visiting Dallas Baptist held-off two late Rice rallies to claim a 6-4 win over the Owls' baseball team Tuesday evening at Reckling Park in Houston.
Dallas Baptist jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the top of the first inning and built a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. Rice continued to fight and battled back for a total of three runs in the sixth and seventh innings. True freshman Blake Fox delivered a one-out single through the right side to score the first two in the sixth. In the seventh, freshman Leon Byrd drew a one-out walk and Ford Stainback singled to left. The runners advanced on a fielder's choice and then moved up another 90 feet on a wild pitch. Byrd alertly made an allusive slide to avoid the tag attempt at home, which cut the margin to just two, 6-4.
The Blue & Gray still had two men on base in the seventh inning, but DBU worked out the jam and then turned a key double-play in the bottom of the eighth after Fox had led off with a single - his fourth base hit in as many official at bats this young season for a perfect 1.000 batting average four games into his Division I career. Freshman Connor Teykl brought the fans to their feet with a long fly that DBU snared for an out a step in front of the right field wall.
Rice head coach Wayne Graham used a total of six Owls on the mound in the contest. Redshirt-freshman Matt Ditman started in his collegiate debut and struck out four in 2.2 innings of work. Chase McDowell, Holt McNair, Tyler Spurlin, Evan Rutter and Kevin McCanna all saw action. The staff finished with a combined total of 11 strikeouts and none of the Patriots' eight hits went for extra bases. Coach Graham stated there was plenty of positives and things to build-on, but wanted to be clear that the staff could help itself even more without allowing DBU nine free base-runners. The Owls surrendered four walks and hit five batters, the most hit batsmen in a single game since the 2010 season.
"You can't do that and win," coach Graham said. "You don't win many games when you give-up nine free passes."
"We're still trying a lot of pitchers," he said. "That doesn't really excuse us from not having more offense. We didn't do a very good job hitting early.
"The good part is McCanna threw lights out," Graham explained of his freshman right-hander. The Owl newcomer from The Woodlands, Tex., was a draftee by the San Diego Padres last summer but chose to enroll at Rice. He impressed coaches as a rookie in the fall training program made his collegiate debut the game's final frames Tuesday. McCanna pitched the last 1.2 innings without allowing any hits nor walks, while striking out two.
"He's ready to go," coach Graham added.
Rice is 2-2 after playing its first four games of the season at home at Reckling Park. The team next plays a four-game weekend series in Honolulu against the University of Hawaii Friday through Monday (Feb. 22-25). The Owls then return home to Houston, but play three different opponents March 1-3 in the annual tournament held downtown at Minute Maid Park, major league home of the Houston Astros. The Blue & Gray returns to Reckling Park for a game against Cal on March 4.