Feb. 20, 2007
HOUSTON -- The Rice junior centerfielder Tyler Henley went 2-for-4 with three RBI, a double and two runs scored and four Owl pitchers combined to hold visiting Dallas Baptist to just one unearned run on five hits on the way to a 7-1 victory over the Patriots Tuesday afternoon at Reckling Park in Houston.
The fourth-ranked Owls jumped on the scoreboard for three runs in both the first and second innings on the way to an early 6-0 lead. That was more than enough room as Owl pitchers Scott Lonergan, Matt Langwell, Jordan Dodson and Mike Ojala held DBU scoreless until the top of the ninth inning. With the team's third win a row the Blue & Gray improved to 6-4 on the season. Dallas Baptist fell to 4-3.
Henley led off the bottom of the first inning and was the first of three-consecutive Rice batters to reach base. He was hit by a pitch and advanced two stations after a DBU fielding error on Brian Friday's bunt base hit. Designated hitter Jared Gayhart followed with a single to center that drove in both runners and the Owls were quickly up 2-0. Two batters later sophomore Aaron Luna blasted his second home run of the season with a solo shot to centerfield for a 3-0 advantage.
Rice sent eight men to the plate in the bottom of the second for three more runs. A leadoff single by J.P. Padron and a one-out double by Danny Lehmann put both runners in scoring position for Henley. He slapped a base hit up the middle to drive both men home and moved to second on a Friday's sacrifice bunt. Henley later scored on an RBI single through the right side by Joe Savery that stretched the margin to 6-0.
In the bottom of the sixth consecutive singles by Chad Lembeck and Lehmann set the table for Henley, who delivered the team's season-high 11th base hit of the game for the seventh run. It was the Owls' final run of the game, but Dallas Baptist would not go away so easy. The Patriots scratched out an unearned run in the top of the ninth after a single, a Rice fielding error and a walk.
The Owl pitchers were sound and solid. The staff scattered five singles without an extra-base hit and combined to strikeout six. Senior starter Scott Lonergan earned the win in his Reckling Park debut. The Poway, Calif., native who transferred to Rice a year ago had never pitched at home after being sidelined all of last season. Lonergan worked into the fourth and left with the lead in a pre-determined pitch limit.
Lanwell did not allow any hits in 2.1 innings and neither did Dodson in his first mound appearance in two years. Dodson has been the team's regular left-fielder since his freshman campaign in 2005, but he showed his versatility with two strikeouts in 2.0 shutout innings. With the win Rice lowered its team ERA to a scant 1.69 through the first 10 games of the season.
The Owls close out the current eight-game homestand Feb. 23-25 with the annual Rice Invitational tournament, sponsored by Academy Sports. The Blue & Gray host a talented pool of teams at Reckling Park, including seventh-ranked Nebraska and undefeated teams Florida Atlantic (9-0) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (9-0). The tournament format features two games each day in a round-robin format.
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