HOUSTON -- Rice scored seven runs on 12 hits, and starting pitcher Jon Duplantier notched his third win of the season, in the Owls' baseball team 7-3 victory over visiting UAB in the opener of a three-game Conference USA weekend series Friday night at Reckling Park.
Rice was on the scoreboard early, posting a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning and another in the second to take a 3-0 lead. The Owls continued to stretch the margin, adding a Ryan Chandler sacrifice fly in the fourth and a towering home run to left by Dayne Wunderlich to start the sixth. Wunderlich's second round-tripper of the season made it 5-0, but UAB fought back for a run in the seventh on a pair of walks and ground-rule double by Mitch Williams.
The Blue & Gray continued to apply the offensive pressure and strung three-consecutive hits to start the bottom of the seventh. Dane Myers punched a single into left field to score Ford Proctor, and Tristan Gray hustled home on a grounder to the right as Rice went up by six, 7-1.
The insurance runs proved a welcome windfall because the Blazers staged a rally in the eighth. UAB tallied two runs to cut the lead to 7-3, and proceeded to bring the tying run to the plate with the bases-loaded and just one away. The Owls found the answer to the threat by bringing in Myers to pitch from his starting spot at third base.
Myers used a strikeout and fly out to end the nail-biting eighth. The sophomore right-hander then retired the Blazers in order in the ninth to earn his third save of the season. Duplantier improved to 3-3 on the year. He worked into the top of the eighth inning, allowing two runs on five hits and five walks while striking out seven.
Nine Owls meanwhile contributed to the dozen-hit barrage. The trio of Proctor, Wunderlich and Dominic DiCaprio (off the bench) all shared the team lead with two hits. Seven different players all chipped-in by scoring a run.
Rice improved to 19-10 on the season and 8-2 in Conference USA league play to move into a tie for second place in the C-USA standings. UAB is now 11-19 overall and 3-7 in conference.