April 6, 2014
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HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team was a single strike away from winning the game and a Conference USA weekend series, but visiting East Carolina rallied for two ninth-inning runs to claim a 2-1 victory over the Owls Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park.
The game had an early 10:30 am start to avoid rain in the area, but the Owls were soon in-gear with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Michael Aquino led off with a double to left and scores on a one-out RBI triple by Keenan Cook.
Neither team could escape rain that delayed the contest for more than an hour in the fifth inning. Play resumed and Rice held the narrow 1-0 advantage until the ninth.
The Owls retired the first two batters of the inning, but Ian Townsend doubled to right field. ECU pinch hitter Bryce Harman battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk and Dylan Brown followed with a game-tying RBI double to right. Eric Tyler followed with a two-out single to plate the go-head run and the Pirates were now in front 2-1.
The Blue & Gray attempted a rally of its own in the bottom of the ninth. John Clay Reeves was hit by a pitch to give Rice a needed base-runner, but ECU turned a sharp double-play on a hard grounder down the right field line to preserve the 2-1 final.
Rice finished with six hits, led by Cook and Skyler Ewing with two each. The Owls are now 22-12 overall and 10-5 in C-USA action. Rice allowed only five runs in the 27 innings of the three-game weekend set. ECU improved to 19-13 on the season and 8-4 in against the league after taking the series, two games to one.
The Owls are on the road for their next five games. Rice next plays on at longtime rival Texas on Tuesday, April 8. Start time against the Longhorns is set for 7 pm.