March 7, 2010
HOUSTON -- With no shortage of drama, true freshman Chase McDowell knocked the game-winning base hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to complete a two-run Rice rally and lift the Owls to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over longtime rival TCU in the weekend finale of the annual College Classic Tournament held downtown at Minute Maid Park.
Trailing 4-3 heading into its final turn at the plate, and after TCU had grabbed the momentum with the go-head run in the top of the frame, Owl senior first baseman Jimmy Comerota stroked a hit to center field and sprinted all the way to third base for his first triple of the season. Freshman Michael Ratterree followed with a single up the middle and just like that the game was knotted-up at 4-4.
Rice, however, wasn't quite finished. Michael Fuda drew a walk to put runners on first and second for McDowell. The young standout from College Station, Tex., lined a base-hit into right-center and Ratterree dashed home from second with the winning run. The Owl rally ended a roller-coaster finish of changing leads and eight of the contest's nine runs were scored in the final three innings.
The Owls opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the second on the first career sacrifice fly for sophomore catcher Craig Manuel that scored Chad Mozingo. Rice starting pitcher Boogie Anagnostou meanwhile kept the Horned Frogs in check with six scoreless frames. The Horned Frogs got on the board in the top of the seventh with a solo home run to left by Jerome Pena that tied the game 1-1.
Rice came right back and regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Manuel drew a one out walk and Comerota slugged a two-run homer to the Minute Maid Crawford Boxes in left. Comerota's second career round-tripped gave the Owls a 3-1 advantage.
TCU battled back with two runs in the top of the eighth. Matt Curry walked and consecutive doubles by Josh Elander and Taylor Featherson re-tied the game 3-3. The Horned Frogs then took the lead for the first time in the ninth. Kyle Von Tungeln took two bases on a Rice fielding error and scored on Bryan Holaday's RBI single to center that made it 4-3, TCU.
Rice rallied for the win in the bottom of the ninth to improve to 7-5 on the season. TCU (8-2) lost for only the second time on the young season. This weekend at the College Classic the Blue & Gray had two one-run wins and one-run loss at the major league home of the Houston Astros. Though normally considered a hitting-friendly park, Rice pitchers held its weekend opponents to a composite .191 batting average and a 2.42 ERA while registering 21 strikeouts in 26.0 innings of work.
The sophomore tandem of left-hander Taylor Wall and outfielder/DH Jeremy Rathjen were named to the College Classic's all-tournament team. Wall struck out eighth Texas batters in 7.1 innings on Friday. Rathjen led Rice in hitting with a .333 average while collecting a double, an RBI and a run-scored.
In their next game the Owls face longtime foe Sam Houston State at Reckling Park on Tuesday (Mar. 9). First pitch with the Bearkats is set for 6:30 pm.