Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON - Junior Chace Sarchet lined a two-out, two-strike double in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game, then scored the winning run on Ryan Chandler's single, as the Rice baseball team rallied to defeat crosstown rival Houston 4-3 late Tuesday night at Reckling Park.
With the win Rice clinched the Silver Glove Trophy by beating No. 11-ranked Houston in both of the first two games of the annual season-long three-game series - and both wins were claimed just eight days apart. The Owls have now won the trophy 16 times since the Silver Glove Series officially began in 1998, but it's the first time for the Blue & Gray to hold possession since 2013.
Unlike the first Rice-UH meeting on April 4, a 9-0 Rice run-away, the momentum in Tuesday's second act swung more than one direction. Both squads endured a one-hour delay in the start time due to rains in the area. When the skies cleared the Owls were ready and jumped on the scoreboard for a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Dayne Wunderlich led off with a base hit up the middle and took second on Dane Myers' one-out single to left. The runners executed a double steal, and Wunderlich scored on a Dominic DiCaprio's single to right-center. The Cougars got one out on a ground ball by Ford Proctor, but the sophomore from Beaumont beat the UH relay throw to be safe at first base. By staying out of the possible double-play, Myers scored from third and the Owls were quickly up 2-0.
Rice pitching had done as well as it has done all year in keeping an explosive Houston offense off the scoreboard for a combined 13-consecutive innings dating back to game one. The Cougars not only got on the board in the top of the fifth, but tied the game 2-2 on hits by Jared Triolo, Lael Lockhart and Connor Wong.
Houston made a sensational defensive play with a long throw from center and tag at the plate to keep Rice in check in the bottom of the sixth. The play gave the Cougars an emotional lift, and the UH its first lead of the series in the seventh. Connor Hollis drew a one-out walk, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on what proved to be a close, drama-filled, sacrifice fly Grayson Padgett.
Rice put a pair of runners on base with one out in the eighth, only to have UH work around the danger. In the ninth, Proctor led off with a liner through the right side and moved to scoring position on Darryn Sheppard's textbook sacrifice bunt. The Cougars got a big second out with a strikeout, but Rice continued to fight. Sarchet came off the bench as the new designated hitter and with two strikes roped a double to the right field corner to score Proctor for the tying run, 3-3.
With no less drama, Chandler followed with the game-winning single to center. Sarchet sprinted around third and dove-in safe at home for the 4-3 final. Rice improved to 11-23 overall. Houston is now 23-9.
Rice's current seven-game homestand continues thru this weekend. The Owls return to C-USA action with a three-game weekend series against league-leader Southern Miss beginning on April 14. First pitch against the Golden Eagles is set for 6:30 pm at Reckling Park