Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON -- Sophomore Dane Myers went 2-for-4 with two RBI at the plate, as well as pitch 3.0 scoreless innings in relief, to help lift the Rice baseball team to a dramatic 7-4 victory over No. 16 ranked Houston Tuesday evening across town at UH.
Early in the contest it looked as though Myers might have done enough to get the Owls a second-straight road win. The third baseman drove in the game's second run in the top of the first inning with a single to left, and then later gave the Blue & Gray a 5-2 advantage with an RBI single to right in the fifth.
Houston would not go away so easily on its home turf, however, and came back with a run on a walk and two hits in the bottom of the inning. UH was were still looking for more with runners on first and second, but Myers fielded a shot to his position at the hot corner, stepped on the base and made the long throw across the diamond for the 5-3 double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh Houston's leadoff batter reached base and the Owls switched pitchers -- only this time Rice head coach Wayne Graham did not go to his bullpen per se. He moved Myers directly from third to the mound.
The Cougars managed to cut the lead to just one, 5-4, with a run on three-consecutive one-out singles. UH had the bases-loaded with one away, but another clutch Rice double-play ended the threat.
Rice welcomed a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth on a Charlie Warren double down the left field line. His season-best fourth-hit of the night stretched the Rice lead to 7-4.
Houston made one final offensive push in the bottom of the ninth. Connor Wong led off with a single and Michael Pyeatt doubled to left to put both men in scoring position. Myers got outs on two short pop-ups, fielding one himself off the mound. He was then careful pitching to veteran Justin Montemayor, and walked the all-conference slugger to load the bases.
The go ahead run for UH was now at the plate, but setting up the force play worked. Myers induced a ground ball to the hot corner, where new third baseman Kendal Jefferies recorded the final out unassisted to preserve the 7-4 final.
Myers had earned the first save of his collegiate career. His two-hit night at the plate was his fifth this season. Warren led all players in finishing with a season-high four hits. Rice's 14-hit attack was the team's highest total of the season.
Sophomore right-hander Willy Amador was steady in his second start on the mound this year. The Bryan, Texas, native allowed three runs on five hits and two walks. Amador struck out three in a career-long 4.1 innings. Rice also had 1.1 innings of work from Jefferies before he moved over to third.
The Owls are now 11-9 on the season. Houston is 13-7 overall.
Rice next returns home to host Old Dominion in a three-game Conference USA weekend series at Reckling Park on March 25-27. Game times are set for 6:30 pm on Friday, 2 pm on Saturday, and new 1 pm start time on Sunday (a recent change from some earlier listings).