April 16, 2006
sophomore Brian Friday went 4-for-6 with a home run, a double and four RBI to lead a season-high six home run attack as the second-ranked Rice baseball team closed out a three-game sweep of Memphis with a 19-8 win in the Conference USA series finale Sunday afternoon in Memphis. With the victory Rice stretched its current win streak to 14 and stayed in sole possession of first place in the league standings.
In a continuation of Saturday's offensive explosion where the Owls won 22-6, Rice opened the game with a big, six-run inning in the top of the first. Sophomore Tyler Henley led off with a walk and Greg Buchanan followed with a single to left. The pair advanced on a ground out and scored on a double down the right field line by Josh Rodriguez. Friday, one of the heros of Saturday's big win, then blasted a home run to straight-away center field to extend the lead to 4-0. Travis Reagan walked and Zornes powered a home run to left for a 6-0 advantage.
Memphis charged right back with four runs in the bottom of the frame. The Tigers collected four singles and a double, to go along with a walk, a hit batter and two wild pitches. When the dust cleared the Rice lead was cut to two, 6-4, with a lot of baseball left at hitter-friendly Nat Buring Stadium on the UM campus.
Rice got runs back in both the second and fourth with a solo homers by Buchanan and Zornes, respectively, to take an 8-4 lead. Zornes had four round-trippers the series, including all three weekend games to spark a 7-for-10 weekend and 1.900 slugging percentage.
Memphis' Bill Moss hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 8-5, but that would be as close as the Tigers would get the rest of the game.
Rice scored a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly and then erupted for five more runs in the top of the seventh on four hits, a walk and wild pitch. Reagan and freshman Kenny Ford both doubled and Henley added his fifth four-bagger of the season as the Blue and Gray extended its lead to 14-5.
A solo shot by Rodriguez in the eighth made the score 15-5 and if the Owls could hold Memphis for one more half inning the C-USA 10-run rule would end the game early for the second time in as many days. The Tigers rallied for two scores however, and it was on to the ninth inning.
All Rice did in return was score four more times on three hits, highlighted by Friday's fifth double of the series. Memphis scratched out a run in the bottom of the ninth for a 19-8 final. For the three games the Owls scored 48 runs while bat a composite .425 with 15 doubles and 11 home runs for an .825 team slugging percentage.
Rice senior starting pitcher Craig Crow earned his fifth win of the season with five innings of work. He allowed only one run after the first inning and finished four strikeouts. Sophomore Bobby Bramhall pitched four solid innings to earn his second save of the year.
The Owls improved to 32-8 on the season and a C-USA leading 11-1 in league play. Rice has won 13-consecutive conference series dating back to March of 2005. Memphis fell to 21-16 overall and 6-6 in conference action.
Rice wraps up its current five-game road swing Tuesday night at Big 12 foe Oklahoma. First pitch between the Owls and Sooners is slated for 6:35 pm in Norman, Okla.