April 17, 2011
HOUSTON - Sophomore Michael Ratterree went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, a stolen base and six RBI to lead the Rice baseball team to an 11-1 victory in seven innings over visiting Conference USA foe Tulane in the finale of a three-game league series Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park.
With the win Rice claimed the weekend series two-games-to-one, and improved to 26-14 on the season overall. At 8-4 in conference, the Owls share the lead in the C-USA standings (determined by league win percentage). Tulane moved to 21-15 overall and 4-8 in conference.
Rice quickly jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the bottom of the first inning. Anthony Rendon reached on a two-out infield single. He stole second to move into scoring position and came home on Craig Manuel's RBI single to right-center.
After four scoreless frames the Green Wave tied the game in the top of the sixth. Nick Boullosa and Matt Ryan drew walks to start it off. Blake Crohan singled to left to score Boullosa and make it 1-1. With two men still on base the Owls worked out of the jam with a play at the plate and a fielder's choice ground out.
The Owls came right back and answered Tulane's run with four of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Rendon led off with a single up the middle and advanced two more stations on Manuel's sacrifice bunt and a ground out to the right side. Geoff Perrott walked, but a wild pitch on ball-four allowed Rendon to dash for the plate. He was safe with a head first slide on a play at the plate and just like that the Blue & Gray had moved back in front, 2-1.
Rice had regained the the lead, but the offense wasn't quite finished. With Perrott still on first base, Michael Fuda followed with a single up the middle that put two men on base. Ratterree then connected for his team-leading fourth homer of the season. His blast into the wind in left field stretched the margin to 5-1.
The Blue & Gray got in some danger to start the seventh, then worked out of it just as quickly to keep the Green Wave in check. Tulane loaded the bases with consecutive singles and a walk, but reliever John Simms notched back-to-back strikeouts and a fly out that ended the inning.
With the lift the Owls erupted for six runs in the bottom of the seventh to bring C-USA's travel-rule into effect (were a league series ends if one team is ahead by 10-or-more runs after seven innings). Keenan Cook and Rendon walked. Both runners took two bases on Michael Aquino's one-out RBI single to left field, and Aquino alertly hustled for second on the throw back into the infield. Rendon and Aquino both scored on a base hit through the left side by Shane Hoelscher that made the score 8-1. Perrott and Fuda drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Ratterree drove all his teammates home with a double to left-center to make it a game-ending double-digit lead, 11-1.
The extra-base hit was Ratterree's third of the day to tie a season-high. The Houston native from Memorial High School tied his career-high with six RBI. Seven different Owls hit safely in a 10-hit attack. Simms earned his second win of the season, and his second of the week, with 1.2 innings of shutout relief. Junior left-hander Taylor Wall made his first C-USA start of the season on the mound and pitched a season-long 5.1 innings, allowing a run on four hits while striking out one.
The Owls' current homestand concludes on April 20 (Wed.). Rice hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Reckling Park. First pitch is set for 6:30 pm. The Blue & Gray then return to C-USA action on April 22 with a three-game league series on the road at UAB.
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