April 10, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- The Rice baseball team surrendered three unearned runs early and could never get fully back on track in a 7-3 Conference USA road loss in the finale of a three-game league series Sunday afternoon at Clark-LeClaire Stadium in Greenville, N.C. The good news is the Owls won the C-USA weekend series 2-to-1 and next return home to begin a lengthy five-game homestand at Reckling Park.
East Carolina took advantage of a Rice fielding error for three big runs in the bottom of the first inning. Jack Reinheimer doubled and Corey Thompson singled to put runners on the corners. Rice starter Abe Gonzales got an infield fly to get the second out and a soft grounder that would have ended the threat, but an errant throw on the play allowed Reinheimer to score and keep the Pirates sailing. John Wooten followed with a single up the middle to score both men for a quick 3-0 lead.
The Owls trimmed the margin in the top of the third. Geoff Perrott led off with a double down the left line, and an ECU error on a ball off the bat of Keenan Cook put runners on first and third. Perrott scored when Michael Fuda reached on a fielder's choice. J.T. Chargois and Anthony Rendon followed with consecutive singles to plate one more and cut the margin to one, 3-2.
The Pirates got one of the runs back in the fourth. John Wooten led off with a single through the left side and Chase McDonald doubled to center that doubled the ECU lead to two, 4-2.
East Carolina tacked-on another run in the seventh on one hit and two walks, and then two more in the eighth on an error and two walks. The late-run damage was off the Owl bullpen after Gonzales left the contest after having done almost all he could do. The senior left-hander pitched a career-long 6.2 innings and scattered eight hits with no walks. He was charged with five runs, but only two were earned on a day the offense put three on the board.
The Owls tallied one final score in the top of the ninth. Shane Hoelscher knocked his second home run of the season over the left field wall. His round-tripper of the season made it a 7-3 final.
Rice is now 23-13 on the season and 6-3 in C-USA play. East Carolina improved to 22-10 overall and 4-5 in conference.
The Owls return home to begin a five-game homestand on Tuesday (April 12) that lasts until April 20. Rice hosts longtime rival Texas A&M at 6:36 pm at Reckling Park. The game has been selected for a television broadcast by Comcast Sports Southwest. The Owls then host Tulane in a three-game C-USA series over the weekend (April 15-17).