March 25, 2006
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team slugged 13 hits, including five for extra bases, and made the most of a solid start on the mound from junior right-hander Craig Crow to post an 8-5 win over visiting East Carolina in the second game of a three-game Conference USA weekend series Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park.
Rice scored five runs in the middle innings for an early 5-0 lead, but the Owls had to halt a late East Carolina before coming away with the program's first C-USA league win. The victory evened the weekend series between the two teams, 1-1. The series finale is set for noon at Reckling Park on Sunday.
A two-out solo home run to right by freshman Aaron Luna in the bottom of the fourth inning opened the day's scoring and gave the Owls a 1-0 lead. Rice stretched the margin to 3-0 with a pair of runs in the fifth. Brian Friday led off with a single to center and a sacrifice by Greg Buchanan moved him into scoring position. Friday took third on a ground out to the right side and scored on a two-out hit by Josh Rodriguez. Rodriguez stole second and scored on a hit to the left-center gap by Danny Lehmann.
Luna led off the sixth with a double to left-center and Tyler Henley followed with a walk. Friday beat out a throw for a bunt-single that loaded the bases and Buchanan slapped a ball threw the left side to score two more to make 5-0.
Crow continued to hold the Pirates scoreless through a Rice-best 6.0 innings of work. He scattered five hits and three walks while tying a career-high with eight strikeouts. He was lifted in the seventh and ECU began a rally in the eighth. A Rice fielding error on a fly ball in the outfield and a catcher's interference put the first two men of the inning on base and both came round to score on a double by Harrison Eldridge and ground out by Jamie Ray. Ryan Wood doubled to score Eldridge and the Pirates cut the margin to 5-3 with three unearned runs.
The Owls came right back and regained its five-run advantage with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Buchanan bunted safely for a hit and Dodson blasted a home run to left to bring him home. Lehmann kept the inning alive with a single and Chad Lembeck tripled to right to make the score 8-3.
ECU, however, was not finished. The Pirates took advantage of two hits and more Rice fielding errors to score two more runs in the ninth. Making his first appearance on the mound since March 5, sophomore right-hander Bobby Bell ended the threat with a strikeout that stranded two runners. He worked a total of 1.1 innings to earn his first save of the season.
Rice improved to 19-8 on the season and 1-1 in C-USA action. East Carolina fell to 17-8 and 1-1 in the league. The three-game series wraps up Sunday at Reckling Park. First pitch is at noon.
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