Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team split a Sunday double-header with No. 11 ranked Stanford at Reckling Park in Houston, taking the first game 12-2 and falling in the second game 2-0. The Owls and Cardinal also split the four-game weekend series 2-2.
The Rice bats exploded for 12 runs in the first game of the twinbill that ended up being shortened to just eight innings. Three Owls, Dominic DiCaprio, Ford Proctor and Dayne Wunderlich, all finished the game with three hits and DiCaprio and Wunderlich both had four RBI. Wunderlich was in fact just a single short of hitting for the cycle, and the Brenham, Texas, senior's biggest blast was also the team's most important.
With two away and the score a tight 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Wunderlich launched a pitch over the wall in left field for a three-run homer. His first round-tripper of the season gave the Blue & Gray some welcome breathing room on the scoreboard, 7-2. Rice proceeded to put another five runs up on four hits in the eighth, ending the contest at 12-2 with the hopes of completing a second game in the afternoon.
Almost lost in all the offensive fireworks was a sensational relief outing from Rice's Kendall Jefferies. The sophomore right-hander from Spring, Texas, entered the game in the third and posted a career-high six strikeouts in a career-long 4.1 innings. Jefferies retired 11-of-12 batters in one stretch on the way to earning his first win of the season. Junior Glenn Otto registered his second save with 1.2 scoreless frames highlighted by a pair of strikeouts.
Rice won the first game by a comfortable ten runs and would have like nothing more than to carry some of the excess scores into the second game. DiCaprio had two of the Owls' three hits, including a double. Rice also stranded a runner in scoring position in the fourth after Dane Myers singled with one away and stole second base. Credit Cardinal pitchers Chris Castellanos and Colton Hock for pacing the nation's No. 11 ranked team to a 2-0 win in the finale.
The predetermined 7-inning game was a classic 0-0 pitchers' duel through the first five frames. Rice's Zach Esquivel fired 5.0 shutout frames before the Cardinal scored the game's only two runs in the top of the sixth. The sophomore right-hander walked only one batter while tying career highs in both innings (6.0) and strikeouts (6).
The Owls improved to 6-11 overall. Stanford is now 11-5 on the season.
Rice next closes out its current homestand on Tuesday (March 14) against longtime foe Sam Houston State. First pitch with the Bearkats is set for 6:30 pm at Reckling Park.