Feb. 23, 2013
Listen here to Saturday's game at 5:05 pm Central Time
HONOLULU, Hawaii - The Rice baseball team rallied for a pair of runs in the top of the 17th inning to break a scoreless deadlock, and then held-off a Hawaii counter-attack in the bottom of the frame to claim a dramatic 2-0 road win in a marathon opening game of a four-game weekend series in Honolulu.
The teams held each other off the scoreboard for 16 full innings, turning back scoring opportunities for the better part of four and a half hours for a contest that began at 6:40 pm local time (10:40 pm Central Time - which the Owls were for the most part still playing on after arriving in Honolulu just 24 hours beforehand).
Finally in the top of the 17th, senior Michael Ratterree led off with a ringing double to the gap in right-centerfield. He made a wide turn at second as if he had thought about trying to stretch it into a triple, but held up and gave the Blue & Gray their best start to an inning since Christian Stringer led off the fourth with a triple (but was stranded). Freshman Blake Fox sacrificed Ratterree to third with a text-book bunt and now all Rice needed was a long fly ball.
Sophomore Ford Stainback instead singled up the middle to plate the first run of the game. It would be all the Owls would need on a long night in the 50th state, but an insurance run wasn't a bad idea either. Stainback was caught stealing, but was replaced at first with a walk to Keenan Cook. Cook scored from first base on a double to right that rolled toward the corner.
With runs at the very highest premium the 2-0 margin appeared positively insurmountable, but Hawaii continued to battle. Back-to-back one-out singles put runners on first and second and brought the winning run at the plate. Rice hung on to get a force at second which was still left a dangerous first-and-third situation. Owl pitcher John Simms worked out of the jam with a ground ball to second base and just like that Rice improved to 3-2 on the season.
The Blue & Gray used four pitchers, Austin Kubitza, Zech Lemond, Evan Rutter and Simms, all of whom were solid in keeping the shutout extended for 17 frames. The hurlers combined for 23 strikeouts and held Hawaii to 11 singles.
That was only the opener. The teams now have to make a quick turn-around to play game two of the series at 1:05 pm Hawaii Time (5:05 pm Central).