March 13, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Rice baseball team was defeated by tournament host California 7-6 in a marathon 15-inning game at the Cal Baseball Classic presented by Safeway, late Saturday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The extra-inning affair was Rice's longest game by innings since a 15-inning contest against the University of Houston in April of 1992. It was also the team's longest game by playing-time (four hours, 36 minutes) since a 13-inning game against the Cougars in 1996 went four hours, 39 minutes.
The Owls were battling to break marks if it meant getting a victory Saturday and/or Sunday, as the game came right up against the midnight hour Pacific Time. Cal rallied from a 6-1 deficit starting in the sixth inning to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning before pushing across the winning run in the bottom of the 15th.
Rice charged in front early. Shane Hoelscher led off the top of the second with a double to right-center and moved to third on a ground-out to the right side. Derek Hamilton's long fly to right made for an sacrifice fly and a 1-0 Rice lead.
Cal answered with a run in its half of the inning. Devin Rodriguez hit a one-out double to right-center, moved to third on a Rice wild pitch and scored on Mitch Delfino's RBI single.
Rice moved right back in front in the top of the third. Daniel GonzalesLuna led off with a bunt base hit and J.T. Chargois followed with a walk. Michael Ratterree singled to left field for an RBI and a 2-1 advantage.
The Owls then stretched the margin to 4-1 with two more in the fourth. Geoff Perrott started it off with a single up the middle and he moved into scoring position on a ground out. Michael Aquino bunted for a base hit to put runners on the corners and Keenan Cook doubled to left to plate one. Aquino then scored on GonzalesLuna's ground ball to make it 4-1.
The Blue & Gray had made the most of some small-ball, but used the longball for two in the fifth. Anthony Rendon led off with a single through the left side. Ratterree followed with a blast that cleared the AT&T Park left field fence. Ratterree moved into a share of the Owls' home run lead and the round-tripper was his second in a major league park this season. (He also homered against Kentucky at Minute Maid Park last week.)
In the bottom of the sixth doubles by Cal's Rodriguez and Austin Booker resulted in a Golden Bear run to make it 6-2. In the seventh, an Owl fielding error with two away led the way to two more unearned Golden Bear runs.
Cal started the eighth with a leadoff triple Booker, who then went on to score on a single by Tony Renda that made it 6-5. In the ninth the Golden Bears used a leadoff double by Rodriguez and an RBI single by Delfino to tie it up, 6-6.
The teams traded shutout frames all the way until the 15th. Tony Renda led off with a single an moved to second on sacrifice. A walk to Chad Bunting set up a force play with men on first and second, and the Owls almost turned a tricky 3-6-3 double play on the next batter, Chad Felmer, to get out of the inning. Felmer was safe and Cal was still alive. Derek Campbell followed with an infield hit to score Renda for a 7-6 final.
The Owls are now 9-8 on the season. Cal improved to 9-4 overall.
Rice next meets UC Santa Barbara on Sunday, the final day of the tournament. First pitch with the Gauchos is slated for 2:30 pm Central Time.