March 2, 2012
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HOUSTON - The No. 4 ranked Rice baseball team fell to longtime rival Texas 11-8 in Friday's final game on the opening day of the Houston College Classic downtown at Minute Maid Park.
The Owls posted their second-highest run total of the season on nine hits, including three doubles and a home run, but walks and a big five-run sixth by Texas contributed to Rice's first loss of the season.
Owl head coach Wayne Graham knows pitching. He did not see the staff at their best on Friday. "We just pitched very poorly," Graham said. "You can't pitch that way and expect to win."
Rice jumped on the scoreboard with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. J.T. Chargois drew a walk, Jeremy Rathjen singled through the left side, and a walk to Michael Ratterree loaded the bases. Craig Manuel reached on an infield single, but a UT fielding error on the play allowed Rathjen to score from second for a 2-0 advantage.
Texas tied the contest in the top of the second. Five walks in the frame that led the way to a 2-2 deadlock. The Longhorns took the lead in the top of the third after a leadoff double by Jonathan Walsh, a steal of third base and an RBI ground out.
The Owls answered with the tying run in the bottom of the frame. Chargois reached on a fielding error and moved to scoring position on ground out. He came home on Manuel's two-out single into right-center that made it 3-3.
The Longhorns scored six runs in the fifth on seven hits and a walk. The big blows were a two-run double by Alex Silver and a two-run triple by Jordan Etier. Texas stretched the margin to 10-3 with run in the sixth, but the Owls would not quit.
In the bottom of the seventh Ryan Lewis was hit by a pitch and Derek Hamilton reached on a walk. Lewis scored on a double to left-center by Christian Stringer and Chargois followed with an RBI double into the right-field corner for a 10-6 score.
Rice cut the margin to three, 10-7, with a run in the eighth when Hoelscher was hit by a pitch and later scored on Stringer's third hit of the night. Texas got the run back in the top of the ninth on a pair of hits that made it 11-7.
The Blue & Gray attempted one final rally in the bottom of the ninth. Rathjen connected on a pitch for a one-out solo home run to right field. Manuel doubled to right-center with two-away that put the tying run on deck, but Texas worked out of the jam for an 11-8 final.
Stringer and Manuel both went 3-for-5 on the night with a double and two RBI. Freshman pitcher Zech Lemond was solid in his second career appearance, firing 3.0 scoreless innings without allowing any hits and striking out two.
Rice dropped to 9-1, a record which is still the program's best start since the national championship season of 2003. Tournament action continues downtown through the weekend. The Owls next meet longtime rival Texas Tech on Saturday in the Day 2 finale. First pitch with the Red Raiders is set for 7:05 pm. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN3.