Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (email@example.com)
HOUSTON -- After the Rice baseball team raced past visiting FIU for an 8-4 victory in the opening game of a Conference USA double-header Saturday at Reckling Park, the Panthers slipped away with a late one-run win over the Owls in the nightcap, 4-3.
In the opener Rice was unfazed by FIU putting up a run in the top of the first inning. The Owls answered with a three-run homer by sophomore catcher Dominic DiCaprio to go up 3-1.
The Panthers tied the game with two in the top of the second, but the Blue & Gray returned serve in the third as Ryan Chandler alertly scored from third base on an FIU fielding error. A Rice error in the fifth led to an unearned run and a tie score, 4-4. In the bottom of the fifth, Chandler scored on Dayne Wunderlich's sacrifice fly that put the Owls in front, 5-4.
Rice broke the game open with a three-run sixth. Doubles by Darry Sheppard and Ford Proctor highlighted four hits in the inning. The Owls finished the game with double-digit hits.
Freshman pitcher Matt Canterino started on the mound and worked a total of 6.0 innings, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out five. Fellow freshman Addison Moss was solid to earn his first collegiate save. The rookie fired 3.0 shutout relief frames with no hits nor walks while striking out three.
The momentum of a strong finish in game one led to a good start in game two. The Owls built a 3-0 lead through four innings, with the highlight being a long two-run homer by DiCaprio to centerfield in the bottom of the first inning.
FIU bats came alive midway through the contest. The Panthers proceeded to add consecutive single runs starting in the fifth and moved in front for the first time in the top of the eighth, 4-3. Rice put men in scoring position in the bottom of both the eighth and the ninth, but FIU worked out of the danger both times to preserve the one-run margin.
With the split Rice is now 7-18 on the season and 1-3 in C-USA league play. FIU is 13-10 overall and 2-3 in conference.
DiCaprio's two homers gave him a composite 1.125 slugging percentage and six RBI the full day of baseball. Sheppard also had a solid double-header, going a combined 5-for-7 at the plate with two doubles and a walk.
The teams conclude the three-game weekend series on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 pm at Reckling Park.