March 2, 2008
HOUSTON -- Catcher Adam Zornes delivered the game-winning hit with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the sixth-ranked Rice baseball team to a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Texas Tech in the finale of the Houston College Classic Tournament Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.
With the victory Rice completed the weekend round-robin tournament with three wins over Big 12 teams. The Owls improved to 6-2 with the team's sixth-straight win overall.
In the early going Rice looked like it would not need a comeback. The Blue & Gray jumped on the scoreboard for three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Junior Jared Gayhart led off with a walk and sophomore third baseman Diego Seastrunk launched a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall for a 2-0 lead. Aaron Luna was then hit by a pitch and he moved to second base on a ground out. A Red Raider wild pitch sent him to third and he scored easily on a base hit up the middle by Rick Hague.
Texas Tech took would not go away so easily and took the lead with a big four-run third. Six-consecutive Red Raiders reached base safely in the inning, including four-straight by hits. The big blows were bases-loaded hits by Joey Kenworthy and Jason Seefeld that scored two runs. Roger Kieschnick doubled-in the go-ahead run for a 4-3 Tech advantage.
The Owls took advantage of a Tech fielding error to tie the game in the fifth. Freshman designated hitter Abe Gonzales reached on miscue and Derek Myers was brought in to pinch run for him. The move worked precisely as Gayhart singled to right field and Myers hustled all the way to third on the play. Freshman Chad Mozingo bounced into what could have been an inning-ending double play, but the Owls' speedy centerfielder beat out the play at first and Myers was able to come home to tie the game, 4-4.
The teams remained deadlocked for two more innings, but a big defensive play by Rice in the top of the eighth saved a run. Kenworthy singled and he was bunted into scoring position. Rice elected to intentionally walk Kieschnick and strikeout by Owl closer Bryan Price made it two outs in the inning. The next batter, designated hitter Taylor Ashby, hit a pitch into center field and Kenworthy sprinted for home. Mozingo charged the ball and made a throw to the plate. The attempt was on target to Zornes, who applied the tag to end the inning.
The play sparked the Owls in the bottom of the frame. Seastrunk reached first on fielding error, but he was erased on a fielder's choice ground out by Luna. J.P. Padron followed with a big double to left-center field to put runners on second and third. Hague was intentionally walked to put runners at every station, setting up Zornes' late-game heroics. Luna's run put the Owls in front, 5-4.
Price closed out the ninth to earn his first win of the season. He finished his relief work of starter Matt Langwell with 2.0 innings pitched, no runs allowed and three strikeouts. Texas Tech fell to 3-5 on the young season. The Owls extended a streak of consecutive victories over Texas Tech to 12 wins in a row dating back to April of 1996.
Rice next faces longtime rival Sam Houston State on the road in Huntsville, Tex., on Tues. March 4. The first pitch with the Bearkats is slated for 6:30 pm.
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