HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team exploded for a season-high 14 runs through the first three innings on the way to a convincing 14-5 home victory over longtime foe Texas State Wednesday night at Reckling Park.
The teams held off the rain for most of the contest. Holding off the Owls' quick-starting offense proved to be a tougher task.
Rice jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the bottom of the first inning after freshman Ryan Chandler lined a leadoff double down the left field line and was driven-home by Leon Byrd. In the second the Owls upped the ante with four runs on three hits and a walk. The big blows were an RBI triple by Kirby Taylor to score Tristan Gray, and a dandy double by Ford Stainback for a 5-0 advantage.
The Owls then sent 14 men to the plate in the bottom of the third on the way to their biggest inning of the young season, a nine-run flood that stretched the margin to 14-0. The big hits were a three-run double by Gray and a three-run home run by John Clay Reeves on his second turn to bat in the inning.
"It was very encouraging to get a lot of runs early, especially when we had such a threat of rain early in the game," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "We got a little comfortable and did not do much after the third, but it was good to get the game in and better to get a win."
"We were hitting, and (Rice pitcher) Ricardo (Salinas) gave us a great start, which is something we wanted to see," coach Graham added. "He had a no-hitter for five innings and had good command of his pitches. (Texas State) eventually found some holes and scored some runs, which can happen, but this is a good win."
Salinas was sharp in his four career start and just his fifth collegiate appearance overall. The true freshman from Houston's North Shore High School did not allow any hits until the top of the sixth inning. He ended up working 5.1 innings while tying his career-high with four strikeouts to improve to 2-1 on the season.
The top of the sixth is where Texas State battled back for all of its runs. The Bobcats batted around for five runs on six hits. That was all the scoring as the rain slowly began to increase over the course of the night.
Chandler and Taylor finished the game with three hits each to pace the Rice offense. Chandler, Reeves and Gray all had three RBI while five different Owls all scored at least twice in the game.
"We did well, and we have to find a way to keep (the win-streak going)," coach Graham said. "It's another conference series coming up, and all those are big. The weather should be better, so maybe that will help us play even better."
Rice next returns to C-USA league play this weekend (March 13-15) with a three-game home series at Reckling Park. The Blue & Gray host longtime conference opponent Louisiana Tech beginning at 6:30 pm on Friday. The remaining start times are set for 2 pm on Saturday and 1 pm Sunday.