April 7, 2006
HOUSTON -- Rice sophomore Chad Lembeck blasted his fifth home run of the season to break a 1-1 tie and senior pitcher Eddie Degerman struck out 10 in 7.2 innings of work to lift the third-ranked Rice baseball team to a 2-1 win over visiting UAB in the opening game of a three-game Conference USA weekend series Friday evening at Reckling Park. With the win the Owls won their eighth game in a row.
Rice took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning when sophomore Brian Friday singled through the right side, advanced to second on a hit deep into the hole at shortstop by Greg Buchanan and scored on a single to center by Joe Savery. The Owls were up 1-0 with each of the first three batters collecting base hits, but UAB starter Jacob Legg worked out of the jam with a double-play ball and proceeded to hold the Blue and scoreless on just one hit for the next six innings.
Degerman was just as sharp in the other half of the pitcher's duel, allowing no runs on just two hits with eight strikeouts through the first five innings. In the top of the six Jorge Guiterrez led off with a single and he dug for third on a two-out base-hit to right by Ryne Lovdahl. Lembeck attempted to throw him out from right field but the throw was off and Guiterrez took an extra 90 feet to tie the game, 1-1, with Lovdahl advancing into scoring position. Blazer designated hitter J.R. Bond followed with a base hit to left that would have scored Guiterrez. However when Lovdahl tried to come home on Bond's hit to give UAB the lead, the Owls were shaken but not stirred. Left fielder Jordan Dodson came up throwing and made a perfect strike to retire the runner at home and end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh Lembeck stepped to the plate and gave the Owls the lead with his fifth homer of the year. The two-out shot to left was the Owls' eighth home run over the last eight games. Three of the last six homers gave Rice the lead for good in the game.
Degerman worked into the eighth for the third time this season. The all-America scattered seven hits and a walk while striking out 10 in a game for the fourth time this season. He was replaced by sophomore Cole St.Clair who kept the Blazers in check for 1.1 innings to earn his team-leading fifth save of the season.
Rice improved to 26-8 on the season and 6-1 in C-USA action. UAB fell to 13-18 on the year and 0-4 against the league. The C-USA weekend series continues through Sunday at Reckling Park. Saturday's start time is slated for 2 pm. Sunday's series finale begins at 1 pm.