Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team used a four-run fifth inning to take the lead, and then held-off a series of challenges from visiting Sam Houston State to claim a 5-3 victory over the Bearkats Tuesday evening at Reckling Park in Houston.
The Owls broke a 1-1 deadlock with four runs on three hits and three Sam Houston fielding errors in the bottom of the fifth inning. Dayne Wunderlich drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Ford Proctor's one-out single to left-center. Both runners hustled for two stations and the Rice lead, 2-1, after the Bearkats dropped Dane Myers' fly ball in the outfield. Freshman Dominic DiCaprio then punched a base hit through the left side to score Proctor from third, but Rice wasn't finished.
Grayson Lewis reached first on a fielder's choice with Myers taking third, but another Sam Houston error on the same play allowed Myers to score and make it 4-1. Rice added its final run on another Bearkat miscue to stretch the margin to 5-1.
Sam Houston battled back for a run in the sixth and the another seventh to pull back within two, 5-3. The Bearkats still had the bases-loaded with two away in the seventh, but the Owls brought Myers in from his defensive spot at third base to pitch. He calmly got a ground ball where Lewis was able to step on second base to end the threat.
The Bearkats then attempted another rally in the top of the eighth. Two batters were hit by pitches and both men advanced into scoring position (with the potential go-ahead run in the batter's box) before Myers ended the inning with a dramatic strikeout. The right-hander from Katy, Texas, had a quick 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the 5-3 final and earn his second save of the season.
Rice starting pitcher Willy Amador improved to 2-0 by working a career-long 5.0 innings and tying a career-high with five strikeouts. The freshman duo of Evan Kravetz and Kendal Jefferies saw action on the mound before Myers pitched the final 2.0 frames. Myers the hitter also went 1-for-3 at the plate and scored two of the Owls' five runs. Senior Connor Teykl led all players with three hits as the Blue & Gray finished the night with nine overall.
The Owls improved to 15-9 on the season with the team's sixth-straight win. Sam Houston is 13-13 and saw its four-game win-streak snapped.
Rice next returns to C-USA action with a three-game weekend road series at Middle Tennessee (April 1-3). Start times against the Blue Raiders are set for 6 pm Friday, 4 pm Saturday and 1 pm Sunday in Murfreesboro, Tenn.