March 12, 2013
John Simms scattered five hits and posted a career-high 12 strikeouts in the first complete game of his Rice career to pace the Owls baseball team to a 4-2 victory over visiting Louisiana Tech Tuesday night at Reckling Park.
Simms was in command in picking up his fourth win of the season. He carried a one-hit shutout after the seventh inning, and worked through a La Tech rally in the eighth that cut an already narrow 3-0 lead down to an even tighter 3-2 margin. After his Owl teammates on offense gave him a little more breathing room with single run in the bottom of the frame to make the score 4-2, Simms again worked out of danger in the top of the ninth. The Bulldogs put runners on first and third with the go-ahead run at the plate, but Simms fanned the final hitter with a swinging strikeout to give him a dozen Ks and a complete game victory. The standout from The Woodlands, Tex., finished having allowed five hits and four walks as the Owls improved to 10-7 overall.
Rice head coach Wayne Graham was impressed. After the Owls went to extra innings for a win on Saturday and the pitching staff surrendered 11 runs to FIU on Sunday, Graham said Simms' big night on the mound came at just the right time.
"John pitched so well, and we needed him tonight," coach Graham said. "His fastball was alive, and he was able to move it in and out. Pulling him (late) was a consideration, but we didn't have enough of a lead that we wanted to do that tonight. We needed John, and came through with a complete game."
The offense gave Simms support early in the contest. Michael Aquino led off the bottom of the second by reaching on a Bulldog fielding error and Michael Ratterree followed with a walk. Skyler Ewing advanced both runners with a text-book sacrifice bunt, and Aquino scored from third on Hunter Kopycinski's sacrifice fly to left field. Freshman Connor Teykl punched a single through the right side to score Ratterree and the Owls were in business up 2-0.
In the sixth one-out singles by Kopycinski and Teykl put runners at the corners for Geoff Perrott, who delivered a an infield hit and an RBI to stretch the lead to 3-0. That appeared to be all the room Simms would need as only one La Tech hitter was able to reach second base through the first seven innings. In the eighth, however, the Bulldogs battled back for two runs on a two-out RBI double by Ryan Gebhardt and an RBI single by Taylor Terrasas.
Rice came right back with a run in the bottom of the eighth. Ratterree drew a leadoff walk and stole second to move into scoring position. He hustled to third on a fly out and trotted home on Teykl's fourth base hit to close-out a 4-for-4 night for the freshman third baseman. The Blue & Gray finished with 10 hits, and it was the freshmen trio of Leon Byrd (2), Kopycinski (2) and Teykl (4) who all tallied at least two hits.
"Connor had a great night going 4-for-4," coach Graham added, "but we still didn't make all the hitting adjustments that we need to. We also hit some balls I thought ordinarily would been base hits and even extra bases, and (La Tech) ended-up turning them into not just outs but double-plays. If we have a chance to break a game open, then we need to capitalize. We can help ourselves when we make hitting adjustments."
La Tech fell to 5-12 overall. The two-game series between the Owls and Bulldogs concludes on Wednesday, March 13. First pitch at Reckling Park is slated for 6 pm.
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