April 5, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS, La. - The No. 9 ranked Rice baseball team used some solid relief pitching from senior Taylor Wall and junior J.T. Chargois to hold on for a 5-4 Conference USA road victory over Tulane in the opener of a three-game league series Thursday evening in New Orleans, La.
With three runs already in and men still on first and third, Wall entered the game in the bottom of the fourth inning and extinguished the Tulane rally to keep Rice in front by a narrow one-run margin, 5-4. The Houston native then proceeded to fire 3.0 more scoreless frames, scattering just a pair of singles while striking out three. Chargois followed suit and kept Tulane off the scoreboard for the final two innings, notching his team-leading fifth save while Wall improved his record to 4-3.
"Taylor Wall did a great job out of the bullpen and J.T. did his thing, and that was the difference," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "Winning the opening game of a series is huge because it gives us a chance to win the series."
It was Rice that opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first inning. Ford Stainback drew a leadoff walk and he advanced to second on an infield hit by Michael Fuda. After Jeremy Rathjen was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Stainback hustled home on Craig Manuel's sacrifice fly for the 1-0 advantage.
Tulane quickly tied the game in its half of the first inning. A single followed by three walks forced-in a run to make the score 1-1.
The Owls added three runs in the top of the third. Stainback again led off with a walk and Chargois, the starting designated hitter, singled up the middle to put runners on first and second. Stainback scored on a base hit by Rathjen. Both Chargois and Rathjen came home on a two-out single to center by Ryan Lewis than made it 4-1.
In the top of the fourth Derek Hamilton laced a one-out double down the left field line. He scored on an RBI single by Stainback that stretched the lead to four, 5-1.
The insurance run proved to be critical because the Green Wave answered with three in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs Brennan Middleton and Brandon Boudreaux singled and Garrett Cannizaro was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jeremy Schaffer singled to drive in two runs, but an Owl throwing error allowed an extra run (Cannizaro) to score and a 5-4 game.
One walk later, and with runners on first and third, Wall was brought in from the bullpen. The victory was the 17th of his collegiate career.
"My main job is to throw strikes, get a ground ball and get out of the inning," Wall said. "After that, same as always, get ahead of the hitters. If you can throw three pitches for strikes it helps a lot. I was able to work my fastball on both sides of the plate and keep my curve ball down. The defense played well and the hitters were swinging the bat tonight."
Rice improved to 22-10 overall and 5-2 in Conference USA play. Tulane moved to 20-9 on the year and 2-2 in conference.
The C-USA series continues through Saturday. Friday's first pitch is set for 6:30 pm. Saturday's series finale is scheduled for 1 pm.