April 11, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Senior Shane Hoelscher went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored in an 11-hit attack, and Rice held-off a late Tulane rally to claim a 4-3 victory in the opening game of a Conference USA weekend baseball series Friday in New Orleans, La.
For the second time in as many games the Owls came out swinging. In the top of the first the trio of Hoelscher, Keenan Cook, and Skyler Ewing strung together consecutive singles for a quick run. Connor Teykl followed with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 advantage.
Tulane struck back with a run in its half of the inning. Garrett Deschamp drew a two-out walk and scored from first base on Andrew Garner's double to right-center.
The Blue & Gray added to the margin in the top of the second. Senior designated hitter Chase McDowell led off with towering home run to right-center field. The round-tripper was McDowell's first of the season and made the score 3-1.
The Green Wave used the longball for a run in the fourth. Deshamp led off with a homer to left that made it 3-2.
Rice got the run back in the seventh. Hoelscher started the inning with a single to right and moved to scoring position on Cook's sacrifice bunt. He sprinted home on an RBI single up the middle by Teykl for a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh the Owl defense made tremendous play to keep the Tulane off the scoreboard. With a runner on base and two away, Nick DiMaggio laced a hard hit ball to right field. The Green Wave sent the base-runner home, but Cook fired the ball to Ewing at first, who relayed the ball home in time to John Clay Reeves to get the runner at the plate.
Avoiding the score proved to be big as Tulane added an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth. Jake Rogers lined a double to left and Richard Carthon singled, but an Owl fielding error on the play allowed Rogers to take two stations and make the score 4-3.
Rice reliever Matt Ditman entered the game in relief of starter Kevin McCanna and struck out the final two batters of the eighth inning to avoid further damage. He then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the 4-3 final and earn his team-leading fifth save of the season.
McCanna worked a total of 7.0 innings on the night. The Woodlands, Texas, native allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks. He tied a career-high with seven strikeouts.
Rice improved to 24-12 overall and 11-5 in C-USA. Tulane is now 14-18 on the season and 6-9 in conference.
The three-game C-USA series continues through Sunday. Saturday's contest is slated for a 2 pm start in New Orleans, La.