March 10, 2012
It was the Rice Owls that started the game with a blast. In the top of the first inning junior second baseman Christian Stringer connected on a 3-1 pitch for a leadoff home run to right field. The round-tripper was Stringer's second of the season and the team's 12th of the year.
Stanford moved in front in the bottom of the second. A single and walk put two men on base and a sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Lonnie Kauppila drove in one with a base hit and Eric Smith doubled to right-center to score two more and stretch the margin to 3-1.
The Owls answered with two runs in the top of the third to tie the game. Shane Hoelscher led off with a double to right-center field and Michael Fuda followed with a home run blast to right. The long-ball gave him a share of the team's home run lead and made the score 3-3.
The Cardinal regained the lead in the bottom of the frame. Stephen Piscotty hit a one-out double and scored on a single by Brian Ragira.
Stanford added three more runs in the fourth on three hits. The big blow was a three-run homer to left by Austin Wilson that made it 7-3. A solo homer in the fifth and another run in the sixth put the Cardinal lead at six runs, 9-3.
Rice fought back for a run in the top of the seventh. Fuda struck a one-out double to center field. He hustled home on a two-out double to right-center by Michael Ratterree for a 9-4 score. Stanford came back with two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to make it 11-4.
The Blue & Gray rallied for the game's final two runs with two outs in the top of the eighth. Chase McDowell came off the bench to draw a leadoff walk and Geoff Perrott was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Hoelscher lined an RBI single into right-center field to score McDowell. Fuda then singled up the middle to drive home Perrott that capped the scoring at 11-6.
Fuda finished the game going 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, three RBI and two runs scored. The top third of the lineup of Stringer, Hoelscher and Fuda were a combined 7-for-15 with two home runs, two doubles, five RBI and four runs scored. Stringer stated that a good hitting day is no substitute for getting a victory, but continuing to hit well will go a long way in helping the Owls bounce back in Sunday's series finale.
"We swung the bat today and found some barrels, but a lot went right to their players," Stringer said. "Hitting a home run is something good and something positive, but I'd rather go 0-for-4 and win the game any day. What I like about our team is that we didn't lay down. We scored one in the seventh and two in the eighth, so we battled. We'll battle again tomorrow."
Rice is now 12-4 on the season. Stanford improved to 13-1 overall. The three-game weekend series concludes on Sunday. Start time against the Cardinal is set for 2 pm Sunday (Central Time, 12 noon Pacific Time).
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