HOUSTON -- Rice sophomore reliever Glenn Otto held-off a Texas A&M rally in the ninth inning to help the Owls claim a dramatic 4-3 victory over the visiting Aggies Tuesday night before a crowd of 5,478, the second-largest for a Rice game at Reckling Park in the stadium's history.
Both teams entered the contest ranked in Baseball America's latest national Top 25. No matter the ranking, the longtime state foes have strung together an uncanny stretch of close, hard-fought games that have been determined by a single run. Tuesday's latest chapter of the series followed this recent theme to make it a total of six one-run games between the Owls and Aggies since 2011.
Texas A&M was quick on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the first inning. J.B. Moss led off with a single, stole second base and scored on Hunter Melton's one-out single to left field.
Rice answered with a run in the bottom of the second. Dane Myers laced a leadoff single and hustled to scoring position on an Aggie passed ball. He went to third on a fly out to left field before alertly dashing home on an A&M wild pitch to make it 1-1.
The Owls moved in front in the fourth with three runs on three hits. Myers lined a one-out triple toward the right field corner, and Connor Teykl was awarded first base on catcher's interference. Dayne Wunderlich put Rice in front 2-1 with an RBI single to score Myers, but the inning wasn't over yet. Hunter Kopycinski cleared the bases with a long double to center that put the Blue & Gray in front 4-1.
Sophomore Willy Amador started on the mound for Rice and was again pitching well. The Bryan, Texas, native retired 10 in a row during one stretch. Two batters into the fifth the Owls went to the bullpen for Otto, and the team's saves leader delivered another clutch outing. As Otto worked the final 4.2 innings A&M scored one run in the seventh to make it 4-2, but was also forced to strand runners in scoring position a total of three times.
The Aggies continued to fight and pulled to within one, 4-3, with an unearned run in the top of the ninth after an Owl fielding error. A&M had the potential tying run on base, and the go-ahead run at the plate, but Otto calmly halted the threat with a game-ending strikeout. He improved to 3-1 on the season while as a team Rice climbed to 18-10 overall. The Owls have won 9 of their last 10. Texas A&M is 22-7 on the season
Rice next hosts a C-USA weekend series vs. UAB on April 8-10. Friday's start time vs. the Blazers is set for 6:30 pm at Reckling Park.