HOUSTON - Stanford struck for four runs in the top of the first inning to claim a 5-3 win over the Rice baseball team in the opener of a four-game weekend series Friday night at Reckling Park in Houston.
A Rice fielding error in the top of the first inning helped open the door to a costly three unearned runs on a night when scoring would be at a premium. A leadoff walk, sacrifice bunt and single put runners at the corners before Alex Dunlap doubled down the left field line for a 1-0 lead. The Owls then dropped a pop fly in shallow left and Stanford took full advantage for Rice could end the inning. The Cardinal proceeded to add three more runs, all unearned, after a two-run double by Mikey Diekroeger.
The Owls battled back for a run in the bottom of the frame on back-to-back one-out singles by Ford Stainback and Leon Byrd. Stainback hustled home on John Clay Reeves' sacrifice fly to make the score 4-1.
Stanford got the run back in the top of the third after a leadoff walk and singles by Quinn Brodey and Mikey Diekroeger. The Blue & Gray continued to fight and added two more runs in the bottom of the third. John Williamson led off with a walk and Ryan Chandler followed with a single. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on John Clay Reeves' two-out double to the gap in left-center that made it 5-3.
The Owls had two baserunners in the fifth a final chance with the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth, but the Cardinal pitching tandem of starter Cal Quantrill and reliever Colton Hock held for a 5-3 final.
"I know we are a good defensive team, but we did not show it tonight," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham, now in his 24th season at the helm of the program. "Stanford is a very good team, but we could have helped ourselves more than we did."
Rice finished with six hits to see its season-opening streak of double-digit hits snapped at nine. The Owl hitters were 4-for-16 with runners on base, and Reeves' double was the squad's only hit with men in scoring position. The Blue & Gray dropped to 6-4 on the season. Stanford improved to 5-4 overall.
Junior right-hander Kevin McCanna started on the mound and allowed just two earned runs while striking out five in 5.0 innings. Newcomer Austin Solecitto had his best Rice outing, scattering two hits over three scoreless innings wile striking out a career-high four batters. Austin Orewiler fired a scoreless ninth.
Friday was only game one of the four-game weekend series. A Saturday split double-header is scheduled for games at noon and 4 pm. First pitch of Sunday's series finale is 1 pm.