Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MURFREESBORO, TENN. -- The Rice baseball team had more total hits, runs and home runs on the way to splitting a pair of Conference USA league games against Middle Tennessee on a long double-header day of baseball Friday on the road in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Under the threat of possibly losing games to impending weather conditions both teams changed the original schedule to play a double-header Friday. The visiting Owls won the first game of the twinbill, 7-2. The Blue Raiders rallied from an 8-4 deficit to win the nightcap in 10-innings, 9-8.
Rice is now 16-21 overall while Middle Tennessee is 19-17 on the season. Both teams are an identical 6-8 against the league, and are tied for seventh place in the C-USA standings along with Western Kentucky (also 6-8 in conference). The Owls and Blue Raiders are scheduled to play the final game of the three-game series on Sunday (April 15). First pitch is scheduled for 1 pm.
In the day's first game Middle Tennessee went right to work for a pair of runs on three hits in the bottom of the first inning. The Owls came right back with a run in the top of the second before tying the game with another in the fifth.
The score was deadlocked until the top of the eighth when Rice broke the game wide-open. The Owls batted around, collecting five runs on four hits, a walk and a Blue Raider fielding error to take a 7-2 lead.
Pitcher Dane Acker picked up the win working in relief. The freshman right-hander allowed just one hit and a walk while striking out three. Sophomore Matt Canterino started and struck out 11 in 6.0 innings of a no-decision. Three of the four hits and both of the runs he allowed were all in the bottom of the first inning.
In game two Middle Tennessee was again quick to score in the bottom of the first inning. The Owls were looking to get out of the frame allowing just one run, but the team could not complete what would have been a tricky inning-ending double play. The Blue Raiders made the most of the opportunity for more offensive chances, and extra life proceeded to bat around for two more runs and a 3-0 advantage.
The lead did not last long. Rice responded with four runs in the top of the second inning on the strength of five hits, highlighted by home runs by Andrew Dunlap and Ford Proctor. With one-away Dunlap launched a pitch over the batter's-eye wall in centerfield. Bradley Gneiting and Brandt Frazier followed with back-back singles. Proctor then gave Rice the lead with a three-run shot to right.
The Blue Raiders tied the game with a run in fourth, 4-4, but the Owls surged back in front in the sixth. Proctor led off with a walk and Braden Comeaux and Trei Cruz singled with one away to load the stations. Chace Sarchet followed with a grand slam home run to right to make it 8-4.
Middle Tennessee would not go away so easily at home, and came right back with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the inning for an 8-7 game. The Blue Raiders tied it in the seventh and walked off with a 9-8 decision in the bottom of the tenth as the Owls had trouble taking care of the baseball.