April 17, 2012
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COLLEGE STATION, Tex. - The Rice baseball team rallied from a three-run deficit to claim a 5-4 road victory over No. 2 ranked Texas A&M Tuesday night at Blue Bell Park in College Station, Texas.
Rice quickly struck for a run in the top of the first inning. Craig Manuel drew a bases-loaded walk after Texas A&M had already surrendered a hit to Ford Stainback, hit one and walked another.
Texas A&M scored four runs in the bottom of the frame after sending eight men to the plate. The big hits were a triple by Tyler Naquin to score two, and a RBI double by Matt Juengel. The Aggies had in fact brought the first three batters around to score, and still had men on second and third, before the Owls could get the first out of the inning.
Rice brought John Simms out of the bullpen and the sophomore right-hander not only worked out of the jam, he helped keep the Owls in the game with standout effort. Simms scattered just three hits over the next 6.0 innings without any walks and striking out eight.
The Blue & Gray came right back with a run in the top of the second to begin the comeback. Michael Fuda singled to the hole at short and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. He was able to score easily on a Stainback double to right-center that made it 4-2.
The Owls cut the margin to one with another score in the fourth. Shane Hoelscher coaxed a leadoff walk and went to second on a base hit by Stainback. Hoelscher alertly hustled to third on an Aggie fielding error on the play, however, and the extra base proved to be big. He scored when Michael Ratterree reached on a fielder's choice for a 4-3 game.
Rice tied it, 4-4, the top of the eighth. Hoelscher singled up the middle and Stainback followed with a double to right-center for his fourth hit of the night. With runners on second and third, Hoelsher dashed home on a one-out sacrifice fly by Christian Stringer.
The Owls took the lead in the ninth. Craig Manuel started it off with a base hit to center and pinch hitter Derek Hamilton was plunked by a pitch. Hoelscher singled to left with one out for the go-head RBI and a new 5-4 game.
With no shortage of drama, Texas A&M put runners on first and second base after a leadoff walk and a one-out fielding error. Closer was J.T. Chargois responded with two strikeouts to end the game for a Rice victory. The Owls improved to 28-11 on the season. Texas A&M dropped to 28-9 overall.
"We did not get off to a good start, but we were able to come back and get an important win," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "The bullpen pitched well and obviously John (Simms) was outstanding. A win like this can certainly help your RPI (ratings power index), but we still could have done some things better in the game. We have to build on this for the (upcoming) conference games."
The Owls have completed the recent road swing and return to Reckling Park for an extended homestand beginning on Friday (April 20). Rice hosts Conference USA rival East Carolina to begin a three-game weekend series. The 6:30 pm game against the Pirates is the first of 11-straight home games through mid May.