March 2, 2008
HOUSTON -- The sixth-ranked Rice baseball team exploded for 10 runs on 15 hits, including three home runs, on the way to a 10-4 victory over fourth-ranked Texas in the late game of the Houston College Classic Tournament Saturday evening at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.
Rice won its fifth game in a row to improve to 5-2 on the season. The Owls will now try and make it a 3-0 weekend at the annual tournament held downtown a the home of the Houston Astros.
Texas put runs on the scoreboard in each of the first two innings. The Longhorns loaded the bases in the top of the first after a leadoff single and two walks. Brandon Belt's sacrifice fly scored Travis Tucker for the game's first run.
Rice used the longball to take the lead in the bottom of the frame. Freshman Chad Mozingo continued his recent hot hitting streak by blasting the first pitch he saw for a home run to right field. The next batter, sophomore Diego Seastrunk, connected on the second pitch of his at bat for a homer into Minute Maid Park's Crawford Boxes in left field for a 2-1 advantage.
UT came back with a solo home run in the top of the second. Shortstop David Hernandez' first round-tripper of the season knotted the score up at 2-2.
Texas led off the top of the fourth with three-straight base hits to regain the lead, 3-2. Kyle Russell singled and moved to third on a double by Cameron Rupp. Kevin Keys punched a hit through the left side and the Longhorns were back in front.
Rice turned to right-handed pitcher Chris Kelley out of the bullpen and the junior from Sugar Land responded with a solid night. Kelley worked out of a fourth-inning jam and proceeded to keep UT in check for the next three frames. He was pitching well, but it turned out the Horns' lead was short-lived.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Rice freshman shortstop Rick Hague smashed a 408-foot homer off the facade in left-center field. Adam Zornes and Jimmy Comerota collected back-to-back singles and a Texas fielding error on the play allowed Comerota to advance an extra 90 feet. With two men in scoring position, the Owls brought Jess Buenger off the bench to pinch hit and the junior delivered a base hit to right that plated both to make the score 5-3.
The Blue & Gray stretched the margin to 8-3 with three more in the fifth. Aaron Luna singled, stole second and scored on a Hague base hit. Zornes reached base on catcher's interference and on the next play, Hague was able to score all the way from second base on an errant pickoff attempt. Zornes then came home on Comerota's career-high third hit of the evening.
Rice put run on the board in the sixth after two more hits and Texas' fifth fielding error of the game. The Longhorns got the run back in the eighth after a leadoff double by Russell and Rupp's hit through the middle of the infield. Kelley was relieved by Bryan Price, who fired 1.1 scoreless innings with two strikeouts an no walks. The Owls reached double-digit runs after midnight with a final score in the eighth. Padron doubled home Mozingo after a single and a walk.
Kelley earned his first win of the season to improve to 1-1. He finished the day with 4.2 innings of work, surrendering three hits with to walks while striking out four. Texas fell to 5-2 on the young season.
The Owls next face Texas Tech on Sunday's final day of the tournament. The first pitch is slated for 2:30 pm. Junior right-hander Matt Langwell will start on the mound for the Owls.