March 11, 2014
HOUSTON - Senior pitcher Chase McDowell fired 6.0 scoreless innings and helped his own cause by going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI at the plate as the Rice baseball team defeated longtime rival TCU 5-0 Tuesday night at Reckling Park.
McDowell was sound and solid in notching his second victory of the season. The College Station, Texas, native started on the mound and pitched 6.0 scoreless frames against the No. 27 ranked Horned Frogs. He scattered five singles, a walk and hit one batter, but worked out jams where TCU stranded a runner at third base four times. Fellow right-hander Ryan McCarthy pitched the final 3.0 innings and kept the shutout intact to earn his first Rice save. Both pitchers had help from a steady Owl defense that turned a season-high three double plays.
Rice posted all five of its runs in two innings. Junior Skyler Ewing led off the bottom of the fourth with a single through the right side and advanced to scoring position on a chopping grounder to the left side. He went to third on John Clay Reeves' single and scored thanks to some hustle from McDowell. Serving a dual role on the night as Owls' starting pitcher and designated hitter, McDowell (who has the base-running advantage of starting out from the left-handed hitter's box) beat out a throw to first as the Horned Frogs were attempting to turn a 4-6-3 double play. With McDowell safe at first, Ewing scored from third to give the Blue & Gray a 1-0 lead.
The Owls then batted around for four runs in the fifth. With one away, Leon Byrd was hit by a pitch and Ford Stainback singled. Keenan Cook laced a double to right and singles by Reeves and McDowell, after an intentional pass to Ewing, eventually plated four more to stretch the margin to 5-0. On the night Rice was 4-for-11 (.364) with runners in scoring position, including 2-for-3 with the bases loaded.
"We got some breaks tonight, but we also competed very well," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "We've been working on a different approach for some hitters and we did a lot better with runners on-base and runners in scoring position. Keenan drove the ball to get a big hit and Leon also got a big hit. (The change in approach) is working a little bit. We'd like it to work a lot more.
"Chase did well," coach Graham added. "It's very hard to do both (pitch and hit) well. He has been so reliable on the mound. He is able to beat hitters because he throws strikes, gets his change-up over the plate and does not walk hitters. He's a quality guy."
Rice improved to 11-6 on the season. TCU dropped to 9-7 overall.
The Owls are back in home action for the second-straight night on Wednesday, March 12. Rice hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to close out the current homestand. Start time against the Islanders is slated for 6:30 pm.
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