HOUSTON - Grayson Lewis' one-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning drove home both the tying and go-ahead runs to lift the Rice baseball team to an 8-7 victory over visiting Louisiana Tech in the second game of the C-USA weekend series Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park.
In the Friday night series-opener the Owls had to rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. Saturday's contest added even more drama by securing the win in the final at bat. Rice improved to 14-6 on the season with the team's sixth-straight win, as well as remain undefeated in C-USA league play at 5-0.
LA Tech jumped on the scoreboard for a pair of run in the top of the first inning. The Owls bounced-back to tie the game in its half of the first and then take a 4-2 lead in the third on doubles by Ford Stainback, Leon Byrd and Charlie Warren.
The longtime conference rivals proceeded to exchange runs through the game's middle-third, only to have a 6-6 deadlock on the scoreboard after the sixth. The Bulldogs took the lead in the top of the eighth. Taylor Love reached on a leadoff single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. He went to third on a single to right before scoring a Rice wild pitch that the score 7-6.
Byrd singled to left to start the bottom of the ninth, and a Bulldog error on John Clay Reeves' sacrifice bunt attempt put Owls on first and second without an out. Rice pinch-ran Dayne Wunderlich for Reeves, and he was soon in scoring position after Connor Teykl drew a walk to load the bases.
Tech immediately brought the infield in and successfully retired Byrd at the plate on a fielder's choice ground-out. There was now one-down, but Owls still had the bases loaded. The tense situation was Lewis' first bases-loaded at bat this season, but the junior from Heath, Texas, delivered the clutch base hit up the middle.
Wunderlich scored easily from third. Teykl sprinted home from second and slid home safely for the 8-7 final.
Rice finished the day with 15 hits, its second-highest single-game total of the season. Stainback, Byrd and John Williamson paced the effort with three hits each.
Owl freshman reliever Glenn Otto notched his first career victory (1-0) with a strikeout in two-thirds of an inning. Blake Fox started on mound and had a strikeout in 4.1 frames. He was relieved by Matt Diman in the fifth, who proceeded to work a season-long 4.0 innings. Ditman scattered three singles and a pair of walks while striking out five in a no-decision.
Rice has won the first two games of the series, but the weekend action is not yet over. The teams conclude the set on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 pm at Reckling Park.