Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Darryn Sheppard’s two-out hit in the eighth inning broke a 3-3 tie and helped the Rice baseball team rally for to a 5-3 road victory over Sam Houston State Tuesday evening in Huntsville, Texas.
Rice jumped on the scoreboard early as sophomore shortstop Ford Proctor led off the top of the second inning with solo homer to left-center field. The Owls then turned a Sam Houston fielding error into another score as Charlie Warren reached base, advanced to second on a ground out and sprinted home on a RBI single by Chace Sarchet. Proctor then clubbed his second homer in as many at bats, a two-out round-tripper over the wall in left to stretch the lead to 3-0.
Sam Houston used the long ball with two away to tie the score in the fourth. After a base hit and a walk, the Bearkats’ Hunter Hearn registered his first home run of the season to make it 3-3.
Both teams traded scoreless frames for the next three innings, working out of trouble without runs for either side. The Owls broke the deadlock in the top of the eighth.
Ryan Chandler hustled for a base hit on ball deep in the hole on the right side. Dane Myers followed with a textbook bunt that he was able to beat for a base hit. The Bearkats were able to get a strikeout, and Proctor reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners at the corners. Proctor stole second to move into scoring position. Sheppard then delivered a clutch base hit into left-center field to plate both runs for a new 5-3 game.
There was still the matter of getting a 17-win Sam Houston squad out six more times. In the bottom of the eighth, Rice turned a key double-play before catcher Dominic DiCaprio threw out a Bearkat baserunner attempting to steal a base. Veteran reliever Glenn Otto’s hitless ninth inning featured a pair of strikeouts to preserve the 5-3 final and clinched his third save of the season.
Sophomore Kendal Jefferies started on the mound and struck out five in 3.2 innings. The Owls also had good work out of Addison Moss throwing 3.0 innings of one-hit relief. Zach Esquivel notched his second win of the season with a shutout inning of relief.
On the offensive side Proctor went 3-for-4 three runs scored and the first multi-homer day by an Owl in two years. Eight players hit safely in an 11-hit attack. Rice improved to 8-19 overall. Sam Houston fell to 17-8 on the year.
Rice continues its current road swing with a Conference USA weekend series at Florida Atlantic March 31-April 2. Friday’s first pitch against the FAU Owls is scheduled for 5:30 pm (Central Time).