April 1, 2006
METAIRIE, La. -- Sophomore centerfielder Tyler Henley blasted a two-out, three-run home run in the eighth inning to lift the sixth-ranked Rice baseball team to a 3-2 win over eleventh-ranked Tulane in the second game of a three-game Conference USA weekend series Saturday afternoon at Zephyr Field in Metairie, La. With the win the Owls clinched the series 2-0 and secured head coach Wayne Graham's 650th win at the helm of the Rice program.
The Green Wave opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Nathan Southard drew a two-out walk and stole second to more into scoring position. A single to left field by shortstop Cat Everett gave Tulane a 1-0 advantage.
The 1-0 lead appeared to be all the room Tulane starting pitcher Brandon Gomes would need. The junior right-hander allowed only one hit and two walks while striking out six through the first seven innings of the game. The Owls had one threat with baserunners in the fourth, but Gomes worked out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts.
Gomes wasn't the only pitcher of note on the day. Rice starter Craig Crow helped keep the Owls in the game with a solid effort of his own. After the first Crow worked 5.2 shutout innings to keep it a 1-0 game. He finished with a season-long 6.2 innings, allowing just three hits and three walks while striking out five.
In the top of the eighth inning, Rice sophomore Chad Lembeck reached on a fielding error and sophomore Brian Friday executed a textbook bunt with one away for a base hit. Tulane was able to get another out and appeared to be halting a Rice rally, but Henley connected on a pitch to right field for a three-run homer.
The Owls went from one hit in the game to start the inning to a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. Tulane came right back and chipped away for run in the bottom of the frame. The Green Wave loaded the bases with no one out and Everett drove in the team's second run of the game with a single. The bases were still loaded but sophomore Bobby Bell, working in relief while coming back to full strength, struck out two batters in a row and got a fly ball to end the rally.
Tulane tried to rally one final time in the ninth, but Bell got a double-play ground ball to end the game with a 3-2 victory. Bell earned his second save of the season for winning pitcher Bobby Bramhall (2-1). Bramhall relieved Crow in the seventh and stopped a Tulane rally with a ground out.
Rice improved to 23-8 overall and 4-1 in C-USA action. Tulane fell to 18-11 on the season and 2-3 against the league. The teams play the finale game of the weekend set on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 pm at Zephyr Field.