HOUSTON -- Sophomore Ricardo Salinas fired a complete-game, two-hit shutout in the Rice baseball team's 3-0 Conference USA victory over visiting UAB in the finale of a three-game weekend series Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park.
Salinas delivered a sensational performance to help the Owls claim the rubber game of a 1-1 series with UAB, Rice's fifth win overall in the last six outings. The right-hander from Houston allowed just two singles and one walk in working a career-best complete game. He retired the last 16-consecutive batters he faced, and also mixed in four strikeouts, to improve to 5-1 with his fifth-straight win.
Salinas has been building up to an outing like Sunday over the past month. In his last five starts not only has the former North Shore High School star maintained a composite 0.97 ERA, he's held opposing hitters to a combined .176 batting average and struck out 32 in his last 37.0 innings.
He used a strikeout to strand a Blazer runner in scoring position after a base hit and steal in the top of the second inning. When Rice scored its first run of the day on a crafty two-out RBI bunt for a hit by Ryan Chandler in the bottom of the third, Salinas got ground ball outs from his teammates on defense to help get him out of a tight fourth inning where two men were on after a single and his lone walk of the day.
Salinas was certainly in a groove, like his four-pitch inning in the sixth, but just a little more offensive insurance was a welcome addition. In the bottom of the sixth, Ford Proctor was hit by pitch with the bases-loaded to force in a run. Rice added another score in the seventh on an RBI single by Grayson Lewis to plate Connor Teykl that made it 3-0.
Rice improved to 20-11 on the season and 9-3 in the C-USA standings. UAB is now 12-20 overall and 4-8 in conference.
The Owls next have a single road game at longtime foe Texas State on April 12, before returning back home to Reckling Park for another three-game C-USA series April 15-17. The Tuesday night start vs. the Texas State Bobcats is set for 6 pm in San Marcos.