March 25, 2012
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and claim a 6-2 win over the Rice baseball team in the finale of the Conference USA weekend series Sunday afternoon at FedEx Park in Memphis, Tenn.
After taking each of the first two games of the series, the Owls were just short on capturing a weekend sweep. Rice is now 18-8 overall and 2-1 in C-USA action. Memphis improved to 10-13 on the year and 1-2 in the league.
"Well we won two-out-three conference games on the road, and that's not bad, but we did not hit again," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "We had three games in a hitter's park and we barely hit the fence, much less a home run. We need to be more aggressive and get bat speed at the plate."
Memphis opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. Eli Hynes led off with a home run to right-center field for his sixth round-tripper of the season. Zach Willis then hit a solo shot in the bottom of the third to stretch the Tigers' lead to 2-0.
Rice scratched-out a run in the top of the sixth. Keenan Cook led off with a single to right-center and he hustled around to third on Ford Stainback's base hit to center. Cook scored on Christian Stringer's sacrifice fly to right that made the score 2-1.
The Owls scored the tying run in the eighth. Stringer and Chargois hit back-to-back singles with one away to put runners on the corners. Stringer scored on Michael Fuda's sacrifice fly to even-up the game at 2-2.
Rice recorded a quick out to start the bottom of the eighth, but Memphis rallied for four runs on three hits and an intentional walk. The big blow was a two-out three-run homer by Jacob Wilson.
Andew Benak started on the mound for Rice and worked 5.1 innings. Benak allowed three hits and two walks while striking out five. He was relieved by Taylor Wall and J.T. Chargois over the final two frames.
"We can stay positive," Graham said. "Andrew had another good start and we're two-and-one in conference. It's all up to us from now on."
There is one more game in the Owls' current road swing before returning to play at Reckling Park. Rice next plays at state-rival Lamar on March 27 (Tues.). First pitch in the rematch with the Cardinals is set for 6:30 pm in Beaumont. The Blue & Gray are finally back home to host C-USA power Southern Miss in a weekend league series beginning on March 31.