Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AUSTIN -- Sophomore catcher Dominic DiCaprio went 3-for-4 with three RBI, two doubles, a walk and two runs scored while three Owl pitchers combined to hold longtime rival Texas in check as the Rice baseball team claimed a convincing 7-1 road victory over the Longhorns Sunday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin.
Rice and UT split the season-opening four game set. Both teams come out of the emotion-charged series with identical 2-2 records.
For the third-straight time in the series Rice was first on the scoreboard. Sophomore Ford Proctor lined a one-out single into right field. DiCaprio then laced a long two-out double off the wall in left-center, and Proctor hustled around the bases for a 1-0 advantage.
Texas used the long ball to tie the game in the fifth. Bret Boswell led off with a solo homer to right-centerfield to make it 1-1, but it would prove to be the only damage as the Blue & Gray soon shifted into high gear.
Rice came right back by sending 11 men to the plate in a big five-run inning in the top of the sixth. Ryan Chandler drew a leadoff walk and Proctor singled through the left side. Dane Myers was hit by a pitch to load the bases and DiCaprio followed with his second double of the game off the wall in right-center. True freshman Brad Gneiting doubled home two more runs and sophomore newcomer Robbie Lammons beat a defensive shift with a RBI single into right field that stretched the Rice lead to 6-1.
Rice added a final run in the ninth for a season-high seven runs. The Owls finished with nine hits, and the offensive support matched a solid start on the mound by sophomore starter Zach Esquivel. The right-hander finished with a career-long 6.0 innings of work where he allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out five. He was relieved by Evan Kravetz, who struck out two in 2.0 scoreless frames. A six-run lead in the ninth may not be the normal time to see junior reliever Glenn Otto, but the right-hander was razor sharp in his 2017 debut. Otto fanned two in a quick 1-2-3 inning.
The Owls have concluded the season-opening four-game weekend series and next return to Reckling Park for an extended homestand. Rice hosts state foe Dallas Baptist in the 2017 home-opener on Tuesday (Feb. 21) at 6:30 pm. Twelve of the Owls' next 13 games through March 14 are scheduled for home at Reckling Park.