April 2, 2011
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HOUSTON - Sophomore J.T. Chargois delivered a clutch bases-loaded double in the bottom of the eighth inning to spark a Rice rally and lift the Owls' baseball team to a 9-6 Conference USA victory over visiting league foe Marshall in the second game of a three-game C-USA weekend series Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park.
Trailing 6-5 heading to the bottom of the eighth, Rice erupted for four big runs to vault into the lead in the team's last turn at bat. Junior Michael Fuda started it off with a double down the left field line. With first base open, Marshall elected to walk Anthony Rendon intentionally. Freshman Shane Hoelscher followed with a text book sacrifice bunt to move both men into scoring position. With first base now open again, the Herd intentionally walked Ryan Lewis, to set up a force at every station. Chargois followed with a double to a gap in center field to clear the bases and put the Owls in front 8-6.
Rice, however, wasn't finished. Chargois scored the final run of the eighth inning on a play at the plate that made it 9-6. Owl senior reliever Tony Cingrani closed out the Herd with three-up, three-down in the ninth for the 9-6 final. With the team's fourth win in a row, the Blue & Gray improved to 20-11 overall and 3-2 in Conference USA action. Marshall moved to 10-15 on the year and 1-4 in the league.
After moving in front early in the contest, Rice twice had to rally from deficits to secure the victory. In the bottom of the second inning, Rendon drew a leadoff walk and a Marshall fielding error on a Hoelscher ground ball put Owls on first and second base. The runners advanced on Michael Aquino's sacrifice bunt. Both men scored Chargois' single to right field for a 2-0 lead.
Marshall answered with three runs in the top of the third. Kenny Socorro led off with a single and advanced around to third after a pair of ground outs. He scored on a base hit by Victor Gomez, and consecutive singles by James Lavinskas and Rhett Stafford loaded the bases. Steven Ross followed with a double to right-center to drive in two to put the Herd in front 3-2.
Marshall's Rhett Stafford led off the sixth with a solo home run to left field. Teammate Gray Stafford then singled with two away and stole second base. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Socorro that stretched the Herd lead to 5-2.
The three-run advantage didn't last long. In the bottom of the frame Michael Ratterree drew a lead off walk and Fuda followed with an infield single by hustling down the line on a bunt. With one away, Hoelscher blasted a three-run home run over the left field wall. Hoelscher's first Rice round-tripper tied the score, 5-5.
Marshall would not go away so easy and regained the lead in the seventh. Isaac Ballou singled and stole second base. He went to third on a ground out and scored on Rhett Stafford's RBI single to make it 6-5.
A Rice rally in the bottom of the seventh came up short, but Chargois eighth-inning heroics were with room to spare. The sophomore from Sulphur, La., finished the day with a career-best five RBI to go along with two hits. Hoelscher's three RBI were also a career-best. The trio of Hoelscher, Fuda and Rendon all scored two runs as the Owls reached nine runs for the second time in as many games.
Sophomore right-hander Jeremy Fant moved to 2-0 on the season working in relief. Fant recorded 2.0 scoreless innings, allowing two hits with no walks and one strikeout. Cingrani notched this team-leading third save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth, including one strikeout.
The Rice-Marshall Conference USA series concludes Sunday with a start time that has been updated from some earlier listings. Note the first pitch Sunday is 10 am at Reckling Park.