March 17, 2012
Matthew Reckling struck out a career-high 13 batters while his teammates on offense collected 17 hits, including five for extra bases, as the No. 5 ranked Owls baseball team coasted to a 12-1 victory over visiting Grambling State Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park in Houston.
Reckling's 13 strikeouts was the most by an Owl pitcher since Ryan Berry struck out 13 in a home game against Southern Miss in 2008. Reckling struck out the side twice in the game and fanned six-of-eight Grambling hitters in one stretch. The Houston native didn't allow the Tigers a hit in the game until the top of the sixth inning. He left with a 10-1 lead after 6.0 innings having allowed just one run on three singles and two walks to improve to 3-0 on the year.
"Matthew had wonderful stuff today," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "He was throwing hard, getting up to 93 (mph), and his curveball is always one of the best in college baseball if not the best. We had a lot of good at bats. Today we did a better of job of paying attention to details in every phase of the game. We have to be on top of our game every pitch."
For as well as Reckling was pitching, the Owl hitters were just as hot giving him a wealth of offensive support. Five different players registered two or more hits, led by Shane Hoelcher's 4-for-5 game with two runs scored, an RBI, a triple and a double. Senior Michael Fuda went 2-for-4 with a double and a career-high five RBI that is the most by an Owl in any game this season.
Fuda drove-in runs in each of his first four trips to the plate. His sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning gave the Blue & Gray a 1-0 lead. The standout from Katy, Tex., drove-in another run in Rice's three-run second that stretched the margin to 4-0. He punched a base-hit through the left side to score two in the fourth and he lined a pitch to the wall in right-center for a RBI-triple in sixth. Fuda trotted home when the next batter, Jeremy Rathjen, blasted a pitch over the left field wall for his team-leading fifth home run of the season to make it a 10-1 game.
Rice added its final two runs in the eighth after four-consecutive hits, including consecutive doubles by Geoff Perrott and Hoelscher, and an RBI single by Ryan Lewis. The 12 runs matched the Owls season-high and was the third time to hit double-digit runs. Rice was just one hit off a season-high and finished with 10+ hits for the seventh time in 20 games this year.
"The offense was great, that's all you can ask for," Reckling said after the game from the stadium that bears his family's name. "(Starting catcher) Craig (Manuel) did a great job behind the plate and blocked every ball in the dirt. He and Geoff (Perrott) are work-horses and they make the wheels turn. You don't have to look for strikeouts, but you want to be aggressive and be ahead in the count. I think that worked for us today."
The bullpen duo of freshman Evan Rutter and Chase McDowell were sharp in keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard for the final three frames. Rice improved to 15-5 overall. Grambling State dropped to 10-7 on the season.
The teams conclude the two-game weekend series on Sunday at Reckling Park. First pitch is set for 1 pm.