March 20, 2011
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team erupted for 11 runs and junior right-hander Matthew Reckling was right at home on the mound at Reckling Park, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning as the Owls completed a three-game sweep of visiting Louisiana Tech with an 11-3 victory in the series finale Sunday afternoon in Houston.
Reckling was sharp in his team-leading sixth, and best, start of the season. He retired the first 10 men he faced and didn't allow a base hit until after there was one out in the top of the seventh inning.
The Houston native from Kinkaid retired the minimum before hitting Louisiana Tech's Taylor Terrasas with one out in the fourth. With a score tied 0-0 and the Bulldogs' Jeb Stafan also having not allowed any hits in the contest, Terrasas attempted to steal second base and an errant Rice throw allowed him to take an extra 90-feet to third. Reckling struck out the next batter, intentionally-walked left-handed hitting cleanup batter Alex Williams, and induced a ground ball to get out of the fourth. LaTech had two runners reach base, but stranded both no hits.
Rice collected the first hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth, and Shane Hoelscher's leadoff single to left field opened the gates to a five-run outburst. Hoelscher singled, Derek Hamilton punched a base hit through the left side and the runners moved into scoring position on Ryan Lewis' sacrifice bunt. Freshman Keenan Cook lined a two-out double to left-center to score both runners, but the Blue & Gray wasn't quite finished.
J.T. Chargois walked and Craig Manuel singled-home Cook to make the score 3-0. Chargois and Manuel advanced to second and third on a passed ball and after an intentional walk to Anthony Rendon loaded the bases, Michael Ratterree followed with a double to left to stretch the margin to 5-0.
Reckling issued a walk in the top of the sixth (Terrasas), but quickly worked out of the inning. The Owls then added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to go ahead 7-0, and Reckling started the seventh with his eighth strikeout of the game. Pinch-hitter Colby Johnson followed with a base hit to left for the Bulldogs' first hit of the day. He was quickly erased on the next play, however, when Cook made a running catch in left to retire the next batter and then doubled-off the runner back at first to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Owls batted around with three hits and three walks for three more runs that stretched the margin to 10-0. With the comfortable lead and Conference USA league games starting next week, Reckling was rewarded with the rest of the day off. He finished with a career-long 7.0 innings of work, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out eight. He has not allowed any runs in his last 16.0 innings of work dating back to Rice's appearance in the Minute Maid Classic.
Louisiana Tech took advantage of an Owl fielding error in the top of the eighth that led to three unearned runs off the Rice bullpen. The Owls got one of the runs back in the bottom of the frame before freshman John Simms ended the game with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Offensively Rice reached double-digit hits and the trio of Chargois, Hoelscher and Hamilton all finished with two hits each. Cook doubled, started the double-play in left and drove-in a career-best four RBI. Seven different players scored runs, and four Owls scored twice.
Rice completed the three-game weekend series sweep to improve to 13-9 on the season. La Tech mov8-11ed to overall.
The Owls next play on the road at Lamar University of Tuesday (Mar. 22). Rice then hosts crosstown rival Houston on Wednesday at Reckling Park in a game that will be televised by Comcast Sports Southwest. The start time for both games in 6:30 pm. The Blue & Gray begin C-USA league play on Mar. 25 (Friday) with the first of three home games against UCF next weekend.