April 4, 2006
COLLEGE STATION -- Rice sophomore Danny Lehmann blasted his first career grand slam to ignite an 11-run attack, but the Owls had to stop a Texas A&M rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to hang on for an 11-6 win over the Aggies and wrap up a stretch of five-consecutive road games Tuesday night in College Station.
The Owls exploded for five runs in the top of the second inning when each of the first six batters reached base safely. Josh Rodriguez led off with a single and Kenny Ford was hit by pitch. A wild pitch advanced both into scoring position for Bobby Bramhall and the College Station native responded with a single into center. Rodriguez scored easily but Ford was retired on a play at the plate. Bramhall move to third on a double to left by Brian Friday and Jordan Dodson walked to load the bases for sophomore Danny Lehmann. Lehmann drove a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall for his first career grand slam. The blast gave the Owls a big 5-0 lead and helped quiet an Aggie crowd of 4,423 at Olsen Field.
Texas A&M came right back with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Jess Buenger led off with a double to left field and Jose Salazar followed with a single to right to drive him home. Josh Stinson was hit by pitch and Parker Dalton walked to load the bases. Blake Stouffer singled to score Buenger and a walk by Adam Hale brought home Stinson to make it 5-3. The Owls made a move and brought in sophomore Will McDaniel out of the bullpen and never looked back.
McDaniel worked out of the bases-loaded, one out, jam with a strikeout and fly out. He then proceeded to hold A&M in check for the next five innings, scattering three hits and two walks while striking out four. With McDaniel in a groove, his teammates added two more runs in fourth, seventh and eighth innings for 11 runs on 11 hits. Sophomore Joe Savery drove in both Rice runs with a single up the middle in the fourth. A double by Rodriguez in the seventh scored two more to stretch the margin to 9-3.
Texas A&M got a run back in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff double by Stouffer and RBI single. It was the only run McDaniel allowed after retiring 10 of 11 in one stretch.
The Owls answered with two more runs in the top of the eighth. A hit batter, a walk and a single loaded the bases and Savery drew a walk for the team's tenth run of the game. Rodriguez drove a sacrifice fly to right to stretch the margin to 11-4.
McDaniel left after the seventh with what looked like a comfortable seven-run lead, but A&M had other ideas. In the bottom of the ninth a one-out double and a pair of singles scored a run. A hit batter and single through the left side scored another to make it 11-6 with the bases loaded an only one away. The tying run was on deck and the fans were coming alive.
After work by Daniel Cooper and Trey Sperring, Rice turned to sophomore right-hander Bobby Bell in the bullpen. As he did three days before at Tulane, Bell calmly picked up his fourth save of the season. He induced a round-the-horn double play, Rodriguez -to-Buchanan-to-Savery, to end the game.
The Owls improved to 25-8 on the season. Texas A&M fell to 18-14 on the year. With the end of the five-game road swing Rice next returns home to Reckling Park on Friday, Apr. 7. The Blue and Gray host new Conference USA foe UAB in a three-game weekend league series. Start times against the Blazers are 7 pm Friday, 2 pm Saturday and 1 pm on Sunday.