April 4, 2014
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HOUSTON - Visiting East Carolina turned three hit batsmen into runs, and held-off a Rice rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim a 3-2 win over the Owls' baseball team in the opener of a three-game Conference USA series Friday night at Reckling Park.
Rice was first on the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Blake Fox punched a two-out single into right and scored as John Williamson and Keenan Cook followed with singles up the middle of the field.
East Carolina came right back and tied the game in the top of the sixth. Hunter Allen was hit by a pitch to lead it off and he moved to scoring position on Dylan Brown's sacrifice bunt. Allen went to third on a single by Drew Reynolds and came home on Ian Townsend's base hit to left.
The teams remained deadlocked 1-1 until the ninth inning, when hit batters again proved critical. The Owls hit two of the first three batters in the ninth and a Hunter Allen single loaded the bases. Rice got the second out via an infield fly with a chance to get away unscathed, but Drew Reynolds delivered a two-out hit to center to plate a pair of runs for a 3-1 advantage.
The Owls would not go away so quietly at home. Shane Hoelscher started the bottom of the ninth with a base hit to left and Connor Teykl followed with his third hit of the night. After Michael Aquino sacrificed both men into scoring position, Hoelscher sprinted home on a ground out than made it 3-2. ECU reliever Ryan Williams secured the final out for a 3-2 final.
Rice is now 21-11 overall and 9-4 in C-USA league play. East Carolina improved to 18-12 on the season and 7-3 in conference.
Pirate starter Jeff Hoffman notched the win by pitching 8.0 innings where he allowed just one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven. Rice's Zech Lemond pitched 6.2 innings, scattering four singles and a pair of walks with four strikeouts in a no-decision.
The weekend series continues through Sunday. There is a new start time for Saturday's contest. First pitch is slated for 12 noon. Sunday's series finale is also a 12 noon start.