Feb. 28, 2010
HOUSTON -- A home run and a triple to drive in a pair of runs highlighted sophomore Michael Fuda's three-hit day and helped lift the Rice baseball team to a 7-2 victory over visiting Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the finale of the annual Rice Invitational Tournament Sunday evening at Reckling Park.
Rice completed its four-team, round-robin home tournament with three-straight wins. Sunday the Blue & Gray put up some early runs, got into the visitors bullpen, and made the most a pair of steady pitching performances.
Pitchers welcome any early offensive support and the Owls quickly tallied a run in the bottom of the first inning when sophomore Michael Fuda blasted a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall. The solo shot was Fuda's second homer of the year and extended his current hitting streak to 11 games dating back to last season.
Rice stroked three extra bases for a pair of runs in the third. Jeremy Rathjen doubled to left and scored on a double by Michael Ratterree. Ratterree advanced to third on ground out to the right side, but he could have scored from anywhere on a triple into the right field corner by Fuda. With the extra bases the Owls took a 3-0 lead.
The Islanders struck for two in the fifth. Omar Garcia drew a leadoff walk and a double by Jacob Perales put both men in scoring position. Garcia scored on a ground out, and a Trey Hernamdez single plated Perlaes to cut the margin to one, 3-2.
The Blue & Gray got one run back in the sixth. Chase McDowell doubled with one away and took third on a fly out. McDowell dashed home on a two-out wild pitch to make the score 4-2. Rice put the game out of reach with three runs on three hits in its final at bat in the eighth. The big blow was Rathjen's second double of the game that scored two for a 7-2 final.
Not to be over-shadowed by the offensive surge, the Owls' pitching Sunday tandem of Tony Cingrani and Matthew Reckling were sound and solid on the mound. The duo held the heavy-hitting Islanders, which had hit a composite .360 with a .584 slugging percentage over the first two days of the tournament, to just a pair of runs on seven hits.
Cingrani notched his first Rice win with a season-long 6.0 innings, scattering five hits and striking out a season-high four. Reckling earned his first save of the season with 3.0 scoreless frames. He allowed just two singles and retired the last five batters in a row to end the game.
Rice improved to 3-4 on the young season. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi dropped to 4-2. The Owls close out the current homestand on Tuesday, March 2, with the first of five meetings with crosstown rival Houston to determine the winner of the annual Silver Glove Trophy as the city's collegiate baseball champion. First pitch with the Cougars is set for 4 pm at Reckling Park.
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