March 4, 2011
HOUSTON -- Rice sophomore J.T. Chargois went 3-for-5 at the plate with a pair of runs scored and closed out an 8-7 Owl victory over Kentucky on the mound to earn his second save of the season in Friday's late game of the annual Houston College Classic Tournament held downtown at Minute Maid Park.
Early in the contest Chargois was part of the Owls' offensive attack that jumped on the scoreboard for a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. He reached on a fielder's choice and Anthony Rendon followed with a double to left field to put runners on second and third. Jeremy Rathjen then knocked a double to right-center to score both men for a 2-0 advantage. The RBI were Rathjen's team-leading 16th and 17th of the young season.
Kentucky came right back and tied the game in the top of the second. A leadoff walk and back-to-back base hits plated to one run with men on first and third. The Owls threw home on a bunted ball by Matt Reida, but UK's J.T. Riddle slid in safe to tie the game, 2-2. The Wildcats then loaded the bases and moved in front on ground out.
The lead didn't last too long. In the third, the Chargois-Rendon-Rathjen trio all singled to load the bases. Sophomore catcher Geoff Perrott lined a one-out base hit up the middle to drive in two and the Blue & Gray was back in front, 4-3.
The Owls then extended the margin with a three-run sixth. Starting freshmen Michael Aquino and Shane Hoelscher both singled and a two-out infield hit by third baseman Daniel Gonzales-Luna was enough to bring Aquino home. Both Chargois and Rendon both tallied RBI singles to make the Rice lead 7-3.
Kentucky responded with two runs in the top of the seventh. Braden Kapteyn homered to the Crawford Boxes in left field with a man on base that kept the Cats close, 7-5.
Rice sophomore second baseman Michael Ratterree used the longball in the bottom of the frame to get one of the runs back. His second round-tripper cleared the wall in left to put the margin back to three, 8-5.
The run proved to be critical because Kentucky rallied for two more runs in the eighth on three hits, a wild pitch and sacrifice fly. UK was looking for more but the Owls found the answer in a defensive switch. Chargois moved from first base to the mound and Rendon stepped-in at first base for the first time in his Rice career.
Chargois started the mound-duty with a hit batsman, but the sophomore from Sulphur, La., found a groove and ended the Wildcats' threat with a strikeout and grounder to second base. In the ninth, he fanned the first two batters before getting the game-ending out on a ground ball to third where Gonzales-Luna was waiting. Gonzales-Luna and Rendon, former Lamar High School teammates, made the 5-3 putout look routine and the Owls had secured an 8-7 victory.
Chargois, Rendon and Rathjen all collected three hits on the night and combined for four RBI and four runs scored. On the mound Chargois worked the final 1.2 innings without allowing any hits or walks and he struck out three for a save of fellow reliever Abe Gonzales. Gonzales fired a total of 4.1 innings, scattering six hits and striking out two to move to 2-0.
College Classic action continues through Sunday. Rice next plays longtime rival Texas A&M in the tournament on Saturday. Start time with the nationally-ranked Aggies is set for 7 pm at Minute Maid Park.