Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
NORFOLK, Va. – The Rice baseball team had leads in both of the games of the Conference USA double-header at Old Dominion, but the Monarchs slipped away for a pair of one-run wins to sweep the league twinbill by scores of 6-5 and 3-2 Friday in Norfolk, Va.
Rice is now 6-15 on the season and 0-2 to open C-USA league play. Old Dominion improved to 14-4 overall with four-straight wins, and is 2-0 in conference.
The long, 18-inning day of baseball (which was created in order to avoid inclement weather expected for the Norfolk area) began with Rice freshman right-hander Matt Canterino posting another sound and solid start on the mound. Canterino tied career-highs in innings (7.0) and strikeouts (10). The Owls had first a 3-0 lead on a Dane Myers home run and then a 5-2 advantage heading into the bottom of the eighth inning after RBI singles by Myers and Tristan Gray.
Old Dominion rallied to tie the game with three runs in the bottom of the eighth, pushing across the final two runs with two outs recorded in the inning. The Monarchs won the game in the bottom of the ninth with a one-out bases-loaded sacrifice fly for a 6-5 final.
In the nightcap ODU jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the bottom of the first inning, but Owl starter Zach Esquivel settled down and pitched well for the next five frames and his teammates on the offensive side worked to give him a 2-1 lead. In the fourth, Myers led off with a double and scored on Ford Proctor’s sacrifice fly. Dayne Wunderlich reached on a fielder’s choice and ended up scoring on a double by Darryn Sheppard.
The Monarchs tied the game with a run in the sixth and took the lead, 3-2 with a run in the seventh. Both scores ended up being unearned, however, after the Owls committed fielding errors which would have successfully ended both innings. Esquivel officially finished his day allowing one earned run in a career-long 6.1 innings and with a career-high seven strikeouts.
Rice continued to battle and put men on base in each of the final three innings, including runners scoring position in both the seventh and ninth. ODU worked through the trouble each time to complete a second one-run win of the day.
The three-game C-USA series is scheduled to conclude on Saturday. First pitch is now set for 5 pm Central Time, which is a change from some earlier listings.