Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Rice baseball team pushed across the game's lone run in the top of the eighth inning, and the Owls' pitching duo of Blake Fox and Glenn Otto made the margin stand for a 1-0 Conference USA shutout road victory over Middle Tennessee Saturday afternoon in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Rice had threatened to score with a runner reaching third base in the second inning, and putting two men on in both the third and fifth. Middle Tennessee held firm, but Fox did too in his seventh start of the season. The senior left-hander worked 7.0 shutout frames, scattering six singles and three walks while striking out five. He was in trouble with the bases-loaded and one out in the bottom of the third, but his teammates turned a textbook 6-4-3 double play to end the drama.
The teams remained deadlocked, 0-0, until the Owls broke through with a run in the top of the eighth inning. With one away, junior Charlie Warren singled up the middle and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. He alertly hustled to third on a Middle Tennessee wild pitch and scored on Ryan Chandler's sacrifice fly to right field.
Warren's offensive day cannot be understated. He had both of the Owls' two hits to go along with two walks in addition to scoring the game's only run, as well as his fourth steal of the season.
There was also the matter of playing two more innings in the tense one-run game after Fox' departure. Rice had the answer for that in the bullpen with Otto. The sophomore right-hander retired each of the six batters he faced in order, three by a strikeout for his team-leading fifth save of the season.
The Owls improved to 16-10 overall and 6-2 in C-USA action. Middle Tennessee is now 13-14 on the year and 2-6 against the league.
The C-USA three-game weekend series between the teams is 1-1. First pitch in Sunday's series finale is scheduled for 1 pm.