April 16, 2013Michael Ratterree drove in three runs with a double and a home run in a 13-hit attack, and five Owl pitchers combined to hold visiting Texas Tech to just two hits as the Rice baseball team coasted to an 11-2 win over the Red Raiders Tuesday night at Reckling Park in Houston.
The Rice was firing on all cylinders for both hitting and pitching. The offense notched the team's second-highest run total of the season on double-digit hits. The Owls got in-gear quickly with three runs in the bottom of the second inning and kept the pressure coming by scoring in four-straight innings during one stretch.
The Owl pitchers were just as sharp where, by design, five pitchers got to work in the team's lone midweek game before returning to Conference USA league play on Friday night (April 19). Junior Austin Kubitza started on the mound and faced 12 Texas Tech batters in 4.0 scoreless innings. He and freshman Kevin McCanna, who pitched the next two innings, had held the Red Raiders hitless for the first 6.0 frames. It was the kind of performance Rice head coach Wayne Graham had wanted to see at a critical stage of the season.
"We had a very good day with the bat and I was really happy with how we pitched," coach Graham said. "Tonight I thought we hit and pitched like we're capable of doing, and it was good to see it in the same game."
"Mike really stood out," Graham added. "He had a big two-run home run in his second at bat after he had already had a double in his first. I love the way he has been driving the ball the last few weeks.
"Austin did exactly what we wanted," the head coach said. "He threw strikes and was able to throw four hitless innings in less than 50 pitches. We knew going in we wanted to use a number of different pitchers. We did, and they were fine. We played a lot of hitters too, so we had a lot of guys get in the game tonight. It was a very good game for us."
Things started looking good as early as the second inning. After Keenan Cook tripled with one away and scored on a ground out, the Blue & Gray strung together a two-out rally. Ratterree and Geoff Perrott knocked back-to-back doubles, and Connor Teykl followed with the first of his three hits for an RBI and a 3-0 Owl lead.
In the fourth Shane Hoelscher walked and Ratterree connected with a homer to left field. His third round-tripper of the season, and second in as many games, stretched the margin to 5-0. The Owls then proceeded to add three more in the fifth, one in the sixth and two more in the seventh for the team's largest scoring output since March 20 (11 runs vs. UTSA). Ratterree went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Teykl was 3-for-3 with a walk while Perrott and Michael Aquino both had two hits each.
After Kubitza and McCanna accounted for Rice's first 6.0 innings on the mound, the final three were pitched by Evan Rutter, Chase McDowell and Matt Ditman, respectively. Texas Tech had two hits, but scored both its runs in the top of sixth without getting any hits.
Eric Gutierrez led off with a walk and advanced to second on a Rice wild pitch. He went to third on a ground out to the right side, and scored when Brett Bell reached on a two-base Owl fielding error that would have ended the inning. Bell then stole third and scored on a Rice throwing error on the steal attempt - the Owls' second error of the inning.
Rice improved to 26-13 on the season. The Red Raiders dropped to 17-20 overall. Tuesday's game is the lone regular season meeting. The teams originally had a second game set for Wednesday (April 17), but that has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. The Owls next face crosstown foe Houston in a three-game weekend series at UH's Cougar field.