April 8, 2007
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- After exchanging the lead three times in the final three innings, Rice sophomore second baseman Jess Buenger drove in the two game-winning RBI to cap a 3-for-5 day and lift the eighth-ranked Owl baseball team to an 8-6 victory over Conference USA rival East Carolina and complete a three-game sweep of the weekend league series Sunday afternoon in Greenville, N.C.
Rice scored all eight of its runs in the final four innings to win its seventh game in a row and improve to 26-10 overall with a C-USA leading mark of 8-1 against the league.
East Carolina scratched out a pair runs in the bottom of the first inning and held the lead all the way until the late innings. Rice struck for one run in the top of the sixth when Jordan Dodson led off with a double down the left field line and took third on a long fly out to the right field corner by Joe Savery. Dodson was able to score on a base hit up the middle by freshman Diego Seastrunk that cut the margin to 2-1.
The Owls moved in front for the first time in the seventh. Danny Lehmann drew a one-out walk and pinch-hitter Aaron Luna followed with single through the right side. Tyler Henley drew a walk that loaded the bases for Jared Gayhart. The sophomore right fielder laced a single into left to score two for a 3-2 lead.
East Carolina came right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. A hit, a walk and a hit off the Rice bullpen loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by David Forbes scored one and a base hit by Eldridge scored another to put the Pirates back in front 4-3.
Rice responded with three in the eighth. Seastrunk and Buenger started it off with back-to-back base hits. Jimmy Comerota sacrificed the runners into scoring position and a sacrifice fly by Lehmann tied the game 4-4. Adam Zornes, who came off the bench to catch in the seventh inning, blasted a two-run home run well past the left field wall to put Rice in front at 6-4.
ECU answered the eighth with consecutive hits one-out by Cory Kemp and Ryan Tousley. Stephen Batts doubled near the left field line to score both runners and the Pirates managed to tie the game once again 6-6.
With no shortage of ninth-inning drama, East Carolina walked the bases loaded where Buenger responded with a one-out base hit into right center to score the last two runs of the game for an 8-6 final.. Rice has won 20-consecutive conference series dating back to March of 2005. East Carolina fell to 21-12 on the year and 4-4 in C-USA.
The road swing continues for Rice. The Owls next face longtime rival Lamar in Beaumont on Tuesday, April 10. First pitch with the Cardinals is slated for 6:30 pm.