HOUSTON – Rice true freshman Trei Cruz knocked a bases-loaded triple in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally the Owls’ baseball team past visiting Texas State 8-6 Tuesday night at Reckling Park in Houston.
Texas State jumped on the scoreboard for three runs in the top of third inning. The Bobcats stretched the margin to 5-0 heading into Rice’s half of the sixth, when the Owls pushed across a run on Ford Proctor’s sacrifice fly.
Rice added two more in the seventh - a Cruz sacrifice fly to score Justin Collins, and Bradley Gneiting alertly hustling home on a Bobcat fielding error to make the score 5-3. Texas State answered with a run in the top of the eighth for a three-run lead, 6-3, but the Owls were far from finished.
In the bottom of the eighth Rice loaded the bases and with a pair of walks and hit batsman. A run scored on a wild pitch to make 6-4, but another walk re-loaded the stations for Cruz. The former Episcopal High School star found himself in a battle at the plate before lacing a pitch into the gap in left-center field. Three runs dashed home and Cruz dug for third to give the Blue & Gray the lead for the first time, 7-6. Rice added one more run in the frame for a little more breathing room at 8-6.
Owls sophomore right-hander Garrett Gayle closed out the Bobcats in the top of the ninth with back-to-back strikeouts to preserve the final. Rice is now 3-1 on the season. Texas State dropped to 1-3.
The Owls next face national power Stanford on the road in Palo Alto, Calif., in a four-game series starting Feb. 22. Thursday’s first pitch against the Cardinal is set for 8 pm (Central Time).