March 23, 2011
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HOUSTON - The Owl trio of Keenan Cook, J.T. Chargois and Michael Ratterree all collected three hits to pace a 14-hit attack in the Rice baseball team's 7-2 victory over visiting crosstown rival Houston in the opening game of the annual season-long best-of-five series for the Silver Glove Trophy, Wednesday night at Reckling Park on the Rice campus.
The Cougars put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. Caleb Ramsey drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. He scored on Matt Creel's single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.
Rice came right back and took the lead in the bottom of the frame. Cook and Chargois started it off with consecutive singles. Craig Manuel executed a textbook sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, but a UH fielding error on the play allowed both men to take an extra 90 feet with Cook coming home and Chargois reaching third. Chargois then scored on a ground out to the right side to put the Blue & Gray a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish.
The Owls added two more in the fourth. Cook, Chargois and Manuel all hit safely to lead to a run. Third baseman Anthony Rendon was hit by a pitch and Michael Ratterree singled to load the bases. Shane Hoelcher coaxed a walk to force a run home and 4-1 Rice lead.
Houston got one of the runs back in its next at bat. Jake Runte drew a leadoff walk and an Owl fielding error on a ground ball extended his time on the bases. He moved to third on Ryan Still's sacrifice bunt and scored on Landon Appling's sacrifice fly that made it 4-2.
The rest was all Rice. In the seventh, Manuel led off with a walk and pinch-runner Ryan Lewis scored easily when Rendon lined a double to the wall in right-center. Rendon then trotted home on Ratterree's double to the right field corner to make it 6-2. The Owls went on to load the bases with one away, and Ratterree scored the game's final run on a sacrifice fly by Daniel GonzalesLuna that stretched the margin to 7-2.
Ratterree's three-hit night was his fourth of the season and second in a row after collecting three in Rice's 7-2 win at Lamar on Tuesday. Chargois leads the team with 10 multi-hit games and Wednesday was his third three-hit night of the year. Cook's hits were a career-high for the freshman shortstop. The 14-hit total for the team was one shy of the season-high.
With the offense in a groove, the Rice pitchers again followed suit. The Owls used five pitchers by design, starting with Taylor Wall who worked a season-high 3.0 innings. Tyler Duffey and Tyler Spurlin both added two innings each. Chargois showed his versatility working the eighth on the mound and Tony Cingrani finished up the ninth. The staff allowed only one earned run on the night and only three hits over the last six frames.
With a season-best fifth-straight win Rice improved to 15-9 overall. Houston is now 11-11 on the season.
The Owls continue their current five-game homestand that lasts through Tuesday (Mar. 29). Rice opens Conference USA league play on Friday (Mar. 25) with a three-game weekend series against UCF. The start times with the Knights are set for 6:30 pm on Friday, 2 pm on Saturday and 1 pm on Sunday at Reckling Park.