HOUSTON -- Junior Charlie Warren went 4-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and senior pitcher Blake Fox was solid working a season-long 7.2 innings, to help lift the Rice baseball team to a 6-2 Conference USA home victory over Old Dominion Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park in Houston.
With the team's fourth-straight win Rice improved to 13-9 on the season. The Owls have won the first two games of the three-game weekend series vs. ODU to improve to 4-1 in league play. The Monarchs are now 18-6 overall and 3-2 in C-USA action.
Old Dominion was first on the scoreboard for a pair of runs on three hits and a Rice fielding error in the top of the second inning. Down but not out, the Owls fought back for a run in the bottom of the frame behind a solo home run from sophomore Dane Myers. His first career round-tripper cut the margin to 2-1, and opened the door for a bigger bottom of the third.
Senior Connor Teykl drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on Hunter Kopycinski's sacrifice bunt. Warren drove Teykl home with an RBI single to left-center to tie it 2-2, but Rice continued to apply the offensive pressure. Ryan Chandler doubled down the right field line and Grayson Lewis walked to load the bases.
Similar to his bases-clearing triple two weeks ago against East Carolina, true freshman Ford Proctor followed with another big bases-loaded hit against ODU. The Beaumont, Texas, native doubled to right field to score two to put the Owls in front, 4-2. Myers plated the fourth run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to stretch the advantage to 5-2.
That was more than enough room for Fox, the preseason C-USA Pitcher of the Year. The left-hander from Houston (Episcopal High School) proceeded to hold the Monarchs without a hit for the remainder of his day that went to two outs in the top of the eighth inning. He walked two in the fourth, and then one in the seventh, but pitched his way out of both frames.
Rice added one more insurance run in the sixth to give Fox even more breathing room on the scoreboard, 6-2. He finished with a season-long 7.2 innings, allowing just two runs (one earned) while tying a season-high with six strikeouts. In his four years at Rice, Fox is now 27-6 in his collegiate career with a 2.56 ERA in 259.0 innings.
Having offensive support helps pitchers help their team. With season-high tying four hits Saturday, Warren is now 9-for-12 at the plate this week dating back to Tuesday's win across town at Houston. He's also four times in three games with a double and a walk. Chandler extended his current hitting streak to a season-best 11-straight games.
The C-USA series vs. ODU concludes Sunday (March 27). Note Sunday's and new 1 pm start time, a recent change from some earlier listings.
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