April 9, 2011
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GREENVILLE, N.C. -- The Rice baseball team first rallied to tie the game with some late runs before claiming a 5-3 victory in 10 innings in the middle game of a three-game Conference USA league series Saturday afternoon at Clark-LeClaire Stadium in Greenville, N.C.
With wins in each of the first two games of the series the Owls (23-12 overall, 6-2 C-USA) have clinched the weekend set heading into Sunday's finale. First pitch Sunday is set for an early 9:30 am Central Time (10:30 am Eastern).
East Carolina took advantage of some Rice miscues to get in control early early in the contest. The Pirates struck for two runs in the fourth without getting a base hit. John Wooten reached second on a two-base fielding error, and another wild throw on the sequence allowed him to advance to third. He scored on a ground out to the right side, but four walks helped keep ECU's inning alive and led to the second run that made it 2-0.
The Pirates added another unearned run in the fifth. Zach Wright led off with a double and Rice's third of error of the game allowed him to take third base on the same play. Wooten singled him home for a 3-0 lead after five innings.
Though two Rice pitchers had surrendered no earned runs and only two hits through the first 4.2 innings, the Owls called to the bullpen to break the Pirate momentum. Junior left-hander Taylor Wall not only answered, he came up with three key shutout innings that kept the score a close 3-0. The Houston native from Westside High School scattered two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out one in one of his best outings of the year.
The Owls chipped away for a run in the top of the seventh. J.T. Chargois led off with a single and Michael Ratterree had a one-out base hit to center field. Craig Manuel followed with an RBI double to the wall in right center that made it 3-1.
In top of the eighth, Derek Hamilton and Keenan Cook singled to put two on with one away. Chargois then lined an opposite-field double to the wall in left to score both men and tie the game, 3-3.
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Duffey relieved Wall in the bottom of the eighth and kept the Pirates in check with 2.1 scoreless frames.
In the top of the 10th, Cook led off with a dive to first base to reach safely after ECU had trouble fielding Cook's ground ball. Chargois followed with a walk, but a wild pitch on ball-four allowed Cook to take an extra 90 feet to put men on first and third. To set up a force-play at any station, the Pirates intentionally walked Rendon that loaded the bases. Ratterree followed with a walk that forced-in a run that gave Rice its first lead of the day, 4-3. Craig Manuel the singled-in Chargois from third for an insurance run that stretched the margin to 5-3.
East Carolina started the bottom of the 10th with a base hit, but Duffey fanned the next to batters before ending the game with a fly out. After no runs in the first six innings, the Blue & Gray scored all five of its runs over the final four to claim a win and secure the three-game series. East Carolina moved to 21-10 overall and 3-5 in conference action.
Chargois finished the game with three of the Owls' hits, including a pair of doubles and two RBI. Manuel also drove in two with a pair of hits.