March 28, 2013Zech Lemond notched his seventh save of the season as the Rice baseball team registered a 4-2 Conference USA victory over visiting Tulane Thursday evening at Reckling Park.
Rice was quick to post three runs over the first three innings. In the bottom of the second Michael Aquino led off with a single and Keenan Cook bunted his way on base for the first of his game-high three hits. Both men advanced on Geoff Perrott's sacrifice bunt and Aquino scored on Connor Teykl's ground ball to the right side. Senior Michael Ratterree reached on walk and coaxed a throw down to second base on delayed double-steal. The veteran from Houston avoided the Tulane defenders long enough on the bases, however, for Cook to score from third to give the Owls a 2-0 advantage.
Rice starting pitcher Austin Kubitza meanwhile held the Green Wave hitters in check for 5.0 shutout innings. The junior right-hander worked out of a jam in the top of the second and his infielders came through with smooth double plays in the in the fourth and fifth.
Tulane broke through for a run in the sixth after Brandon Boudreaux drew a leadoff walk and dashed to third on Blake Crohan's single to right field. Boudreaux scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Cannizaro to make the score 3-1.
The Owls came right back with a run in the bottom of the frame. Aquino drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Cook. Perrott then laced an RBI double near the left field foul line for a 4-2 Rice lead.
Kubitza left after 6.0 innings and was followed by freshman Blake Fox, who pitched the Owls out of a jam in the seventh. Tulane continued to fight and Fox gave way to Lemond with sticky two-on, no-out, situation in the eighth. The Green Wave cut the margin to 4-2 on Sean Potkay's RBI single. Tulane was looking for more, but Lemond ended the threat with a strikeout. He then worked a spotless 1-2-3 inning in the ninth for his seventh save of the season.
"(The game) felt like we should have been able to score more runs with the way we hit the ball at times," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "I thought I our defense, turning three double plays, was a big help in getting a home win. Home conference games are so important.
"I thought Zech pitched well," coach Graham added. "I have a lot of confidence in him, and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him."
Rice improved to 19-9 overall and 3-1 in C-USA action. Tulane is now 14-14 on the season and 2-2 against the league.
The three-game C-USA series continues through Saturday, March 30, at Reckling Park. Game two is set for 6:30 pm on Friday. First pitch Saturday is 2 pm.
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