April 1, 2013Christian Stringer's hit in the 12th for a 4-3 victory over visiting Texas State Monday night at Reckling Park in Houston.
Down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Rice started the late rally with a leadoff single from designated hitter Michael Aquino. Keenan Cook's sacrifice bunt was enough to move Aquino in to scoring position, but a Texas State fielding error on the play not only allowed Cook to reach safely, but for both men to advance an extra 90 feet up to second and third. Texas State elected to load the bases with one-away to set up a force-play, but the Bobcats still had to be careful with hot-hitting sophomore Skyler Ewing at the plate. Ewing drew a walk on a full count to force-in the tying run, 3-3.
Texas State was able to avoid further damage in the ninth, but Rice was back on the offensive in the bottom of the 12th. Michael Ratterree led off with a single to right and Ewing was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. The Bobcats were able to get a pair of outs to bring up Stringer, who had already had a pair of hits in the contest. The veteran from Longview, Tex., lined a pitch to centerfield allowing Ratterree to score easily from second base without a throw. The Owls had completed the comeback in extra-innings for a 4-3 final.
Rice head coach Wayne Graham liked the final result, and he had a hunch his senior second baseman would deliver.
"I knew Christian would come-through," coach Graham said. "There wasn't any doubt about that, and he was exactly the guy I wanted up to bat in that situation. Earlier in the game he had an opportunity and left some men on base. I was certain he wasn't going to let that happen again in the same game. He's tough enough not to let any earlier at bats in a game get to him the next time. He did a nice job of hitting and won the game for his teammates."
Stringer was one of three Owls, including the College Park High School duo of Aquino and Cook, to finish the game with three hits. The Blue & Gray collected a total of 13 hits in the game, the 13th time this season (and fifth in the last six games) for the team to post double-digit hits.
Rice was quick to hit and score. Cook singled-home Stringer with two-away for the first run in the bottom of the first inning. Ratterree led off the second with a base hit and stole second before scoring on Connor Teykl's RBI single to make it 2-0.
Texas State came right back to take the lead with a three-run third on just two hits. The big blow was a two-out bases-loaded double to right by Garrett Mattlage that put the Bobcats in front 3-2.
Rice junior right-hander Chase McDowell started on the mound and allowed just two hits in 5.1 innings. Junior John Simms struck out five while working 4.2 scoreless frames out of the bullpen. Freshman Blake Fox pitched the final two scoreless innings and earned his third win of season as the offense staged its game-winning rally.
The Owls improved to 21-10 on the season with the team's fourth win in extra innings. Texas State dropped to 12-16 overall.
Rice has closed out its homestand and is on the road for each of its next four games. The Owls play a three-game Conference USA series at East Carolina beginning on Friday, April 5. First pitch in the series-opener against the Pirates is set for 5 pm Central time.
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