April 7, 2013
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - The Rice baseball team overcame a pair of deficits, including a four-run margin in the sixth, to record an 8-7 Conference USA road victory over East Carolina Sunday afternoon in Greenville, N.C.
Rice was first on the scoreboard in the second inning. Michael Aquino led off with a double to left-center and scored on a two-out base hit by Michael Ratterree for a 1-0 lead.
East Carolina came right back with a three-run third. A one-out double and a walk put two men on for centerfield Dylan Brown. Brown homered to right field for a 3-1 ECU lead.
The Pirates added two more in the third to stretch the margin to 5-1. Bryan Bass led off with a single and a Rice error on a sacrifice bunt attempt allowed two runners on base. Both advanced on an ECU sacrifice. The duo proceeded to score on a ground out, that would have ended the inning, and a single.
The Owls rallied to take the lead with a big five-run sixth. Leon Byrd, Christian Stringer and Ford Stainback all singled to load the bases. Byrd scored on a one-out single by Keenan Cook and Geoff Perrott followed with an RBI single to plate two more. A sacrifice fly by Ratterree scored Cook to tie the game, 5-5. Skyler Ewing doubled to bring home Perrott and put the Blue & Gray in front, 6-5.
ECU went back on top with runs in the bottom of the sixth. Brown doubled and Chris Gosik walked to put runners on first and second. Luke Lowery singled to tie the game, 6-6. A two-out single by Jay Cannon gave the Pirates the lead at 7-6.
Rice returned serve with two runs in the top of the seventh. Byrd started the inning with a walk and a double off the right field wall by Stringer put runners on second and third. Both scored on a one-out double by Aquino for a narrow 8-7 Owl lead.
The margin was enough with Rice reliever Zech Lemond on the mound. The sophomore right-hander worked the final 3.2 innings without allowing any runs on four hits. Lemond notched his fourth win of the season working in relief of Kevin McCanna and Chase McDowell.
On the offensive side the Owls finished with 13 hits. All the Rice starters finished with at least one hit. The game also marked the return of junior third baseman Shane Hoelscher to action. Hoelscher had been sidelined since early March, but he returned to the hot corner and made three key defensive plays.
The Owls improved to 23-11 overall and 6-3 in C-USA. East Carolina is 15-17 on the season and 1-5 in conference action.
Rice has one more game left on the current four-game road swing. The Owls play at longtime rival Lamar on Tuesday (April 9). First pitch with the Cardinals is set for 6:30 pm at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont.