BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Senior catcher John Clay Reeves drove in four runs with a pair of homers to help pace the Rice baseball team to a 13-5 Conference USA road victory over UAB in the finale of the weekend series Sunday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala.
Rice snapped its three-game losing streak and avenged the first two games of the league series in a big way. In addition to 13 runs on 11 hits, the Owls also had a sound and solid start on the mound from junior left-hander Blake Fox.
Fox didn't need all the offensive help this time, but the veteran southpaw received a lot of support early in the contest. Rice took advantage of some UAB walks for seven big runs in the top of the first inning. Three of the first four Owls reached on a free pass and Charlie Warren punched a single through the left side to drive in two. Connor Teykl followed with a double to right-center to plate two more, but the Blue & Gray weren't quite finished.
Teykl advanced to third on a Blazer fielding error that put runners at the corners. Kirby Taylor drove-in Teykl with a sacrifice bunt up the right field line to make the score 5-0. Hunter Kopycinski was hit by a pitch and Ryan Chandler walked to load the bases for Ford Stainback. The senior from Dallas singled up the middle to score two more and just like that the Owls were up 7-0.
Rice started the second with the longball. Reeves drove a pitch over the wall in left-center for his fifth home run of the season and an 8-0 lead.
The Owls continued the scoring parade in the third. Chandler lined a one-out single and Stainback drew a walk. With two away, Reeves belted his second homer of the game to stretch the margin to 11-0. The round-tripper was the 12th of his career and marked the first two-homer day by an Owl since 2013.
UAB scored in the fourth after a pair of walks by Fox, but the scores were unearned after an Owl fielding error. Fox finished his day allowing just the one unearned run over 6.0 innings on five hits and three walks while striking out five. Relievers Josh Pettitte and Matt Ditman combined to pitch the final three frames.
Rice added a run in the fifth on a double by Warren and stand-up RBI triple by Teykl. With a 12-1 advantage the Owls had a chance to close out the game via the C-USA travel rule, but UAB continued to fight. The Blazers knocked a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh followed by a solo shot in the eighth to make it 12-5. Rice tallied its final score in the top of the ninth in a 13-5 final.
The Owls improved to 23-15 overall and 12-6 in C-USA action. The Blazers are now 21-13 on the season and 8-7 in league play.
Reeves finished the day with two homers, four RBI and three runs scored. Warren and Teykl both registered identical three-hit days with three RBI. Stainback scored a total of three runs on a 2-for-5 day.
Rice has wrapped-up its week-long four-game road swing. The Owls next return home to host crosstown rival Houston on Tuesday, April 14. First pitch against the Cougars is slated for 6:30 pm at Reckling Park.