April 23, 2006
HOUSTON -- The number one ranked Rice baseball team scored the go-ahead run on junior Travis Reagan's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh and added an insurance run in the eighth to claim a 5-3 win over 24th-ranked Southern Miss in the finale of a three-game Conference USA weekend series Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park. The win was the Owls' 14th-straight C-USA victory and fourth-consecutive 3-0 sweep of a league foe.
Rice left fielder Aaron Luna opened the scoring early in the contest. The freshman from Southlake Carroll belted his team-leading tenth home run of the season with one away in the bottom of the second inning.
The Owls added two more in the fifth to stretch the margin to 3-0. Senior Greg Buchanan singled with and stole second to move into scoring position. Brian Friday followed with a walk and both scored on a two-out double to right-center by Joe Savery.
Southern Miss would not go away without a fight. The Golden Eagles came right back with three runs in the next two innings to tie the game. In the sixth a pair of back-to-back singles and a sacrifice fly scored one. In the seventh Jody Blount drew a walk and scored on a double to right-center by Trey Sutton. Toddric Johnson singled to right field to bring home Sutton and the game was knotted-up, 3-3.
The Owls responded with a run in the bottom of the frame to regain the lead, 4-3. Junior Josh Rodriguez started the rally by beating out a throw from the right side of the infield for a base hit. The all-America candidate was looking to move into scoring position, but opportunistically took two bases when a wild pitch skipped away and rolled to the home dugout. Rodriguez scored easily from third on Reagan's a one-out sacrifice fly to left.
Rice added one more score for good measure in the eighth. Jordan Dodson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and he moved up a base on Danny Lehmann's sacrifice bunt. Dodson took third on a ground out to the right side and scored on an infield hit by Buchanan for a 5-3 advantage.
Sophomore Cole St.Clair earned his team-leading eighth save of the season with a scoreless ninth. The Golden Eagles attempted a final rally with ninth-inning double and walk, but St.Clair pitched out of the jam with a strikeout and game-ending double play.Sophomore reliever Bobby Bramhall improved to 4-1 as the winning pitcher working in relief of starter Craig Crow. Crow did not figure in the decision but was sharp in scattering just three hits while tying a season-high with eight strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
Rice improved to 35-9 overall. Southern Miss fell to 27-15 on the year and 5-7 in conference. The Owls next host longtime rival Texas State on Tuesday, Apr. 25, to conclude the four-game home stand. Start time with the Bobcats is slated for 7 pm at Reckling Park.