Feb. 23, 2013
HONOLULU, Hawaii - Sophomore right-hander Jordan Stephens struck out a career-high ten batters in the first complete game effort of his collegiate career to pace the visiting Rice baseball team to a 3-1 victory over Hawaii Saturday afternoon in Honolulu.
Stephens was again impressive in making his second start of the season. The standout from Alvin, Tex., scattered four hits and walk while fanning ten Hawaii batters. He surrendered one run in the bottom of the seventh, but had more support from his teammates on the offensive side than the Owls showed in claiming a 2-0 victory in the 17 inning marathon late Friday night in the series-opener.
Saturday's contest first appeared to be from the same pitching template from Friday where neither staff would surrender runs. This time, however, Rice broke the 0-0 deadlock in the top of the sixth. Ford Stainback led off with a double to left-center and moved to third on a textbook sacrifice bunt by Shane Hoelscher. Stainback trotted home on Christian Stringer's sacrifice fly to give the Blue & Gray a 1-0 advantage.
By the bottom of the seventh Rice pitchers had held Hawaii off the scoreboard for 23-consecutive innings. The Rainbows snapped the streak with a run in the bottom of the seventh.
The good news for Rice was how the Owls responded in their very next at bats in the top of the eighth. Hoelscher led off with a double to right-center and moved up 90 feet to third on a sacrifice bunt by Stringer. Keenan Cook followed with an infield grounder and Hawaii chose to get Hoelscher sprinting for home. The Rainbow throw sailed over the catcher's head allowing Hoelscher to score and Cook to move into scoring position on the play. Freshman Connor Teykl was brought into to pinch hit and moved worked to perfection. Teykl lined a single in to center field that scored Cook and extend the Rice margin to two, 3-1.
That was more than enough room for Stephens. He notched consecutive three-up, three-down, innings in the bottom of the eighth and ninth. He personally fielded the final ground ball and threw to first base for the game-ending out.
Rice improved to 4-2 on the season win wins in each of the first two games of the series. There are still two more games in the four-game weekend set. Sunday's contest is slated for 1:05 pm Hawaii Time (5:05 pm Central).