March 21, 2010
SAN DIEGO -- The Rice baseball team rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth inning, then hung on in the bottom of the frame, to claim a 9-8 victory in the finale of a three-game weekend series Sunday afternoon at Cunningham Stadium in San Diego, Calif.
Trailing 6-5 to start the final inning, Rice exploded for four runs to go up 9-6. Senior Jimmy Comerota drew a leadoff walk and Michael Fuda hit a one-out single up the middle.Jeremy Rathjen was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but an infield fly brought the Blue & Gray to their last out. Senior designated hitter Diego Seastrunk laced a single up the middle to score to and give Rice a 7-6 lead, but the team wasn't finished. Rick Hague doubled to left to score one more and Seastrunk moved to third. Seastrunk came home on a wild pitch to make it 9-6 and the final run that eventually proved to be critical.
San Diego would not go away so easy on its home field. A walk, an error and hit batsman loaded the bases with no outs. The Owls then turned a double play, second-to-first and then on to third. One run came home on the untraditional double play to make it 9-7. A Steven Chatwood single then plated one more, but Owl senior reliever Mark Haynes recorded a swinging strikeout to end the game at 9-8.
Rice had won the final game of the series to improve to 12-9 overall. San Diego fell to 11-10 after the teams volleyed the lead back and forth throughout the day.
The Owls struck first for a run in the top of the first when sophomore Jeremy Rathjen slugged a two-out homer over the wall in left field. Rathjen moved into sole possession of second place on the team with his fourth homer and he also gave Rice a 1-0 lead.
San Diego came right back with two runs in the bottom of the first. James Meador punched a two-out hit through the right side and Victor Sanchez drew a walk to put men on first and second. Austin Green hit a pitch off the wall in centerfield for a triple to score two and give the Toreros the lead.
Rice tied the game 2-2 in the third. Comerota hustled for a leadoff double down the right field line and took third on a fly out to right. He scored on a bunt by Fuda that he beat-out for a RBI single.
USD answered with two runs in its half of the third. Zack Kometani led off with a single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Tony Strazzarra walked and James Meador singled to drive in one and place runners on the corners. Green drove in Stazzarra with a base hit to give the Toreros a 4-2 advantage.
The Owls regrouped to go back on top in the fifth. Michael Ratterree started the rally off with a single and he scored all the way from first on a double to left-center by Fuda. Anthony Rendon then blasted a one-out, two-run homer to left-center to make it 5-4 Rice. The longball was Rendon's ninth of the season and the 29th of his collegiate career.
The Toreros scored twice in the sixth to take the lead. Three singles loaded the bases and a fourth single by James Meador dropped in shallow right-center field to score a pair and a new 6-5 USD lead.
Rice senior Jared Rogers picthed 5.2 innings in relief of starter Tony Cingrani to improve to 2-1 on the season. He was relieved by Mark Haynes under some intense pressure of having two men on an nobody out in the bottom of the ninth. The defense bent, but didn't break as Hayned earned his second save of the season.
The Owls finished up the weekend series at San Diego, but the team is not finished with a current stretch of road games. Rice next plays at the University of Texas on Tuesday, Mar. 23. First pitch is set for 6:05 pm. The Blue & Gray then open Conference USA play with a three-game weekend road series at Memphis Mar. 26-28.