Feb. 25, 2012
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HOUSTON - Rice senior right-hander Matthew Reckling
had a sensational day on the mound at Reckling Park, scattering two hits and three walks over a career-long 8.1 innings with a career-best 11 strikeouts as the No. 4 ranked Owls slipped past Dallas Baptist 2-0 Saturday afternoon.
Reckling is a local standout with deep Rice roots. His grandfather, T.R. Reckling, was a Rice baseball letterman in the 1950s whose name is on the stadium where the Owls call home. Where young Reckling's outing could be described as a magical day for the whole family, Rice head coach Wayne Graham described his starter's array of pitches providing most of the hocus pocus.
"Reckling was throwing a disappearing curveball," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "It would get to the dirt and just disappear. He had a mix (of pitches) today. He had a change-up, and he used it more than he's ever used it. He was a three-pitch pitcher today."
With the victory the Owls remained undefeated on the young season at 7-0, the program's best start since an 8-0 ledger to begin 2001. The Blue & Gray also clinched the weekend series over DBU, an NCAA Super Regional participant last season. Like the narrow 6-5 win on Friday night, the Owls had to battle all the way to the end on Saturday.
Reckling was up to the challenge. The former Kinkaid star dazzled the Patriot hitters into the ninth inning and at one point had retired 12-of-13 with eight strikeouts. He issued a walk in the second, but the runner was erased on a round-the-horn double play. The first base hit he allowed in the top of the third was caught stealing to end the inning. Another walk in the fifth and a hit batter an inning later were both left stranded by inning-ending strikeouts.
"It felt good today," Reckling said. "(Starting catcher) Craig (Manuel) and I were working together really well. That was big. I thought I changed speeds pretty well and threw my fastball, curve and change-up for strikes. If you can do that you can keep the hitter off-balance. I knew I could trust the defense. All I had to do was pound the strike zone and be aggressive."
The Owl hitters quickly gave Reckling a supporting run early in the contest. Christian Stringer started the bottom of the first with a double to right-center and Michael Fuda drove him home from third base with a double to right field. It would prove to be all the offense Rice would need, but junior Michael Ratterree led off the bottom of the fourth with solo home run near the left field pole.
Reckling started the ninth with his career-high 11th strikeout, but Dallas Baptist's Austin Elkins punched a base hit through the right side and Landon Anderson drew a walk to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. With the game on the line in the ninth for the second time in as many games, Rice head coach Wayne Graham brought in junior closer J.T. Chargois out of the bullpen.
Chargois struck the first batter out on three pitches before an easy ground ball to Stringer quickly ended the threat. The save was Chargois' third of the season and second in less than 24 hours.
"That's his job," Reckling said. "He's got some of the best stuff in the country. We're very confident handing the ball over to him."
The weekend series, and the team's season-opening eight-game homestand at Reckling Park, concludes Sunday at 1 pm.