HOUSTON -- Rice junior Andrew Dunlap drove-in a career-high three RBI to go along with his first two collegiate hits to help lead the Owls' baseball team to a 7-2 victory over No. 16 ranked East Carolina in the second game of a weekend series Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park in Houston.
Offensively Rice was ready. The Owls jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the bottom of the first inning, and Dunlap's first career hit in the second doubled-home another for a 2-0 advantage.
East Carolina would not go away so easily, however, and battled back to tie the score. Travis Watkins led off the fourth with a homer to left. In the fifth, Parker Lamm led off with a single up the middle, advanced to second on a sacrifice, was part of a double-steal to get to third, and scored on a tricky grounder to the right side that made it a 2-2 game.
The Owls came back with four in the bottom half of the sixth. The freshmen duo of Dominic DiCaprio and Ford Proctor started the rally with singles. ECU was able to retire Proctor on a force play at second base for one out, but Dayne Wunderlich hustled to beat-out the subsequent throw to first base that prevented a double-play. Ryan Chandler walked to load the bases for Dunlap, who already had the RBI double and a mammoth blast to left in the fourth that was caught on the warning track.
Dunlap fell behind with two strikes in the count, but battled off pitches to stay alive before ripping a hit into left to plate two more. Connor Teykl then followed with an RBI single through the right side and Charlie Warren's sacrifice fly stretched the new Rice lead to 6-2. The Blue & Gray added one more insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single by Proctor that scored Dane Meyers.
The 7-2 lead was more than enough room for sophomore reliever Glenn Otto. The right-hander had ended a Pirate threat in the sixth with a strikeout, as well as get some double-play help from his defense in the eighth. Otto improved to 2-1 allowing only one hit and no walks with four strikeouts in 3.1 scoreless frames. Rice starter Blake Fox had a no-decision despite a season-high seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings.
The Owl trio of Dunlap, DiCaprio and Proctor all had two hits in a 12-hit attack. As team the Blue & Gray was 5-for-12 (.417) with runners in scoring position and battled at the plate when there were two outs in the inning (4-of-11, .364).
Rice is now 7-7 overall. East Carolina is 11-4 on the season. The series concludes Sunday (March 13). Start time is set for 12:30 pm.