Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team rallied for six runs in the top of the ninth inning to claim a 9-4 Conference USA road victory at UTSA in the league opener for both teams Friday afternoon at Roadrunner Field in San Antonio.
The Owls produced early and posted single runs in each of the first three frames. Senior Grayson Lewis drove in the first run in the first inning with a sacrifice fly, and Andrew Dunlap muscled a pitch over the right field wall for a solo homer and a 2-0 lead in the second. UTSA answered with a run on three consecutive hits in the bottom of the inning, but Rice came right back in the third as Lewis doubled-home Ryan Chandler to make it 3-1.
The Roadrunners countered with a run on three hits in the bottom third, and kept battling. Rice halted UTSA chances in the fourth and sixth before falling behind for the first time, 4-3, on a two-run seventh. The Blue & Gray was down to their final three outs to start the ninth, but proceeded to send 11 men to the plate for a six-run outburst. Five hits, three walks and a UTSA fielding error paved the way to matching the team's biggest offensive inning of the season so far (a six-run seventh inning in the finale vs. UCF).
With a completely different looking game up 9-4 in the bottom ninth, sophomore right-hander Willy Amador closed out his second-straight scoreless inning. He struck out two without allowing any walks in 2.0 innings for his first career win.
On the offensive side Chandler tied his collegiate-best with three hits and Lewis drove in a career-high with three RBI. Freshman Ford Proctor extended his current hitting streak to 16 games while also driving in a pair of runs.
The Owls improved to 9-8 on the season and 1-0 in C-USA. UTSA is now 9-8 overall and 0-1 in the league.
The three-game weekend series continues through Sunday (March 20). Saturday start time against the Roadrunners is scheduled for 2 pm.