March 17, 2013
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HOUSTON - Rice freshman pitcher Kevin McCanna
allowed just one hit over a career-long 7.0 innings and the offense was in high-gear as the Rice baseball team coasted to a 12-0 victory over visiting Harvard Sunday at Reckling Park to complete a three-game sweep of the Crimson in the weekend series.
In just his second collegiate start McCanna posted the longest outing of his Rice career, a sterling 7.0 innings where he allowed just one hit and a pair of walks. After the top of the first inning where Harvard put two men on base via a walk and Rice fielding error, McCanna found a groove to keep the Crimson in check for the next six frames. The Woodlands, Tex., native retired 15-fo-16 in a row during one stretch and he in fact faced only three Harvard batters in each of the innings from the second through the seventh. After the Crimson's lone base hit in the second, and a leadoff walk to start the fourth, McCanna got identical 5-4-3 round-the-horn double plays to erase the runners and end both innings. Relievers Connor Mason and Evan Rutter pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to keep the game as a one-hit shutout.
"Kevin did a good job," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "We knew he was a talent when we recruited him. Kevin threw the curve ball hard today, and I think that was the most significant thing that was different from some of his other outings. We wanted to see a legitimate curve ball today, and we did. He was still throwing well in the seventh, but at that point we knew we wanted some others to get some work."
The Owl offense meanwhile was battling just as hard in building an early 6-0 lead after the first two innings. In the first, Rice took advantage of a two-out Harvard fielding error that opened the door for three runs. With runners on first and third Keenan Cook singled-home the first score. Michael Aquino laced a triple down the line and into the left field corner to add two more. Michael Ratterree led off the second with a single, Geoff Perrott was hit by a pitch and Leon Byrd walked to load the bases with no outs. Ford Stainback followed with a base hit to left to drive in the first two. Byrd later trotted home on Connor Teykl's sacrifice fly.
Rice batted around for five more runs on three hits in the bottom of the sixth to stretch the margin to 11-0. The big blow was a bases-loaded triple to right by Cook to close out a 2-for-4 day with a career-high-tying four RBI. By the time the Blue & Gray added the final run in the bottom of the seventh to close out the day's scoring at 12-0, a total of nine Rice players had registered a base hit and five different Owls all scored two runs in the game.
With an eye on the bigger picture coach Graham not only likes to see hits, but hitting in key situations. Today the Owls loaded the bases four times and delivered hits on three of those occasions. Rice was also a combined 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position and leadoff batter got on base in four of the eight offensive innings.
"We hit the ball just fine," coach Graham said. "It's good to see Keenan have a good day and a lot of others played pretty well. There are times where we have built an early lead and then didn't do anything after that. Today we kept hitting, which need to be able to do.
"I'm pretty happy with the performance overall, hitting and pitching," the head coach added. "It's nice to have a game finally that wasn't too tense."
Rice improved to 14-7 overall with its fifth-straight win. Harvard is now 1-9 on the season. The Owls' current homestand continues through March 20. The Blue & Gray host state rivals Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday followed by a home game against UTSA on Wednesday. Both games are scheduled for a 6:30 pm start at Reckling Park.