March 29, 2014
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Sophomore left-hander Blake Fox fired 8.0 shutout innings and tied a career-high with seven strikeouts as the Rice baseball team claimed an 8-0 shutout victory over Middle Tennessee State in Saturday's second game the Conference USA series in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The Owls evened the weekend series with the Blue Raiders 1-1. Sunday's final game of the set begins at 11 am Central, a new start time from some earlier listings. The Owls improved to 21-8 overall and 9-2 in league action. Middle Tennessee is now 11-14 on the season and 6-5 in C-USA.
Fox had some solid defense behind him to keep Middle Tennessee off the scoreboard early in the contest. In the bottom of the second inning with one away and a runner on third, the Owls brought the infield in and got the second out at home plate. Fox then ended the frame by picking the previous batter off first base. In the third, the Blue Raiders had runners on second and third, but Fox used back-to-back strikeouts to avoid any runs.
The Rice offense went to work in the top of the fourth. Chase McDowell and Shane Hoelscher hit consecutive one-out singles through the right side to put runners on first and second. Michael Aquino lined a two-out single into center to plate McDowell for a 1-0 lead.
The Owls added two more in the fifth on two hits and a pair of Blue Raider fielding errors. Ford Stainback singled, moved to second a failed pick off and scored on a double down the left field line by Skyler Ewing. Ewing went to third on a wild pitch and scored to make it 3-0 when Middle Tennessee could not get out of the inning with an error.
Rice stretched the margin to 7-0 in the top of the seventh. The Owls scored four runs on three hits, an intentional walk and two Middle Tennessee errors. In the ninth Ewing connected for his second home run of the season for an 8-0 advantage.
That was more than enough room for Fox. He completed 8.0 innings, scattering three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in a rainy day with temperatures dipping into the 40s. Trevor Teykl pitched the final inning to preserve the shutout. The pitchers had the support of 16 hits. Stainback, Ewing, Hoelscher and Aquino all had three hits on the day.