April 14, 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The second-ranked Rice baseball team scored two runs in three different innings and used a solid starting effort by senior pitcher Eddie Degerman to claim a 7-3 road win over Memphis in the opener of a three-game of a Conference USA weekend series Friday night at Nat Buring Stadium in Memphis. With the victory the Owls extended their current win streak to a season-best 12 games and snapped a Memphis win streak at eight.
The Owls struck first for a run in the top of the second inning. Sophomore Brian Friday led off with a walk and he stole second to move into scoring position. He scored on a one-out single up the middle by junior Travis Reagan for a 1-0 advantage.
Rice added two more in the sixth. With one away junior all-America candidate Josh Rodriguez blasted his fifth home run of the season with a solo shot to left-center field. Friday followed with a single and Reagan and Jordan Dodson followed with one-out singles to add one more and stretch the margin to 3-0.
Memphis battled back to cut the lead to 3-2. Joey Lieberman led off with a single and Michael Murray walked. The runners advanced on a pair of wild pitches to score the first run. After a walk, K.K. Chalmers hit what began to look like an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play but he reached base on a fielder's choice as Murray scored.
Rice came right back with two runs in the top of the eighth. Rodriguez reached on a Tiger fielding error and he took second on a sacrifice bunt by Friday. The small-ball approach wasn't needed after all as pinch-hitter Adam Zornes connected for a two-run homer over the scoreboard in left field to make it 5-2.
The Tigers added one final score in the eighth. After the first two men reached base on a hit and fielding error, reliever Cole St.Clair came out of the bullpen in relief of starter Eddie Degerman. St.Clair surrendered a hit to Adam Amar to score one and cut the lead to 5-3, but he retired each of the next three men to end the threat.
The Owls added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth on a single and pair of walks for a 7-3 final. Degerman won his eighth game of the year without a loss by throwing 7.0 innings. The senior from California scattered six hits and allowed three runs while striking out six. St.Clair finished the final two innings and notched his team-leading sixth save. He allowed one hit and two walks and struck out four.
The Owls impoved to 30-8 on the season and 9-1 in Conference USA play. Memphis fell to 21-14 overall and 6-4 against the league. The series continues through Sunday. Saturday's second game is scheduled for a 2 pm start. Sunday's finale is noon.