April 25, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Rice senior Shane Hoelscher celebrated the 200th game of his collegiate career by going 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI to pace the Owls baseball team to a 5-0 road victory at Southern Miss in the opener of the three-game Conference USA weekend series Friday night in Hattiesburg, Miss.
With the win Rice is now 30-14 overall and 17-5 in conference to hold first place in the league standings. Southern Miss is 25-18 on the year and 13-6 in C-USA action heading into the middle game of the crucial weekend road series.
After three scoreless frames Rice put something together in the top of the fourth. John Clay Reeves singled, Skyler Ewing was hit by a pitch and Chase McDowell hustled for a hit on a bunt to load the bases. Hoelscher had already singled in his first trip to the plate in the second inning, but now with the bases loaded he had a chance to put the Owls on the board.
Early in the his second at bat of the night the Belton, Texas, native turned on a pitch and belted it on a line over the left field wall... only just foul. The loud strike did quiet the 2,981 USM fans, and a few pitches later Hoelscher knocked a double to left to score two. Southern Miss brought the infield in and was able to retire McDowell at home on a ground ball, but a Michael Aquino single to left plated Hoelscher to make the score 3-0.
The Owls added another run in the fifth on a two-out rally. Ewing punched a base hit through the left side and then advanced two stations on a similar hit by McDowell, only to the right between first and second. Ewing trotted home on Holecher's single that was deep in the hole at short. The RBI was Hoelcher's third of game for a 4-0 Rice advantage.
Sophomore Kevin McCanna started on the mound for the Owls and was in control for the first five innings allowing just two hits while tying a career-high with seven strikeouts. Even with his personal best eighth strikeout in the sixth, he got in a little trouble allowing two hits and a walk to load the bases. Matt Ditman entered the game in that pressure situation and ended the inning with a strikeout.
Rice added a run without a hit in the eighth. Aquino was hit by a pitch and Ford Stainback walked to lead off the inning. The runners advanced on Keenan Cook's sacrifice bunt. Aquino scored on Charlie Warren's RBI ground out to the right side that made it 5-0.
Ditman went on to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings to preserve the shutout and earn his seventh save. McCanna improved to 5-2 in his third-straight Friday night start.
The C-USA weekend series continues through Sunday at Southern Miss' Pete Taylor Park. Saturday start time is slated for 2 pm.