March 26, 2011
HOUSTON - Rice senior left-hander Abe Gonzales fired a career-long 6.1 innings and the Owl offense posted a pair of three-run frames on the way to a 6-2 Conference USA victory over visiting UCF in the second game of the three-game league series Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park.
Gonzales stepped-in for only his second start of the season and proceeded to handcuff the heavy-hitting Knights for a career-long 6.1 innings of work. The Houston native from nearby St. Thomas High School allowed a run on just four hits without any walks. He did not surrender his first hit of the game until there was one out in the fifth, and he finished the day with a pair of strikeouts.
The Owls gave Gonzales some offensive support early in the contest. In the bottom of the second, a walk and three-consecutive singles by Derek Hamilton, Ryan Lewis and Craig Manuel quickly put two runs on the board. Keenan Cook drew a two-out walk to load the bases and J.T. Chargois followed with a base hit to left to give the Owls a 3-0 lead.
Rice doubled the margin to 6-0 with three more in the fifth. Chargois led off with a base hit through the right side and Anthony Rendon singled to right-center. Michael Ratterree walked to load the bases so that Shane Hoelscher could drive in the fourth run of the game with a sacrifice fly. The Owls re-loaded the bases with Hamilton's second hit of the game and this time Lewis' sacrifice fly drove in a run. Manuel then punched a hit through the right side to stretch the margin to 6-0.
UCF would not go away so easy and posted a run in the sixth. Erik Hempe hit a leadoff double to right-center, advanced to third on Travis Shreve's base hit and scored on a fielder's choice. The only run allowed by Gonzales made it 6-1.
The Knights were able to add one more in the top of the ninth off the Rice bullpen. Ronnie Richardson hit a leadoff double to left-center and he scored on Darnell Sweeney's RBI single for a 6-2 final.
Gonzales had made nine appearances out of the Owl bullpen before earning his first start of the season on March 22 (Tues.) on the road at Lamar. He improved his record to 3-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 on the year. On the offensive side, Chargois, Hamilton and Manuel all finished the game with two hits. Manuel and Lewis both had two RBI in the win.
Rice improved to 16-10 overall and 1-1 in C-USA play. UCF is now 17-6 on the year and 1-1 against the league. The weekend series with the Knights is now tied 1-1 and concludes on Sunday. First pitch in the series rubber-game is set for 1 pm at Reckling Park.
The Owls wrap-up the current homestand on Tuesday (Mar. 29). Rice hosts crosstown foe Houston in the second game of the annual best-of-five series for the Silver Glove Trophy. The UH game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southwest (CSS).