April 28, 2007
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The freshman pitching tandem of Ryan Berry and Mike Ojala combined to hold Conference USA rival UAB to a run on just two hits as the third-ranked Rice baseball team coasted to a 7-1 win over the Blazers in the second game of the three-game weekend series Saturday afternoon at Young Memorial Field in Birmingham, Ala. With the team's ninth win in a row and the 17th victory in the last 18 games, Rice clinched the weekend road series.
The Owls jumped on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the first inning. With two away junior Brian Friday singled to right-center and he moved to scoring position with his third steal of the series. After a walk to Joe Savery, Jess Buenger singled to right to score Friday for a 1-0 Rice lead.
UAB tied the game in the bottom of the second. J.R. Bond punched a base-hit trough the left side. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored from second base on a Rice fielding error that rolled into foul territory. The unearned run was the Owls' first fielding error in three C-USA games and tied the score 1-1. That would be all Berry (and later Ojala) would allow as the offense began to turn up the pressure.
Rice answered with a score in the fourth when Aaron Luna was hit by a pitch with two outs. He hustled to third base on a single up the middle by J.P. Padron and scored on a hit through a hole on the left side by Jordan Dodson.
The Blue & Gray batted around for four runs on just three hits in the sixth. Savery was hit to lead it off and he came home on after back-to-back singles by Luna and Padron. Dodson walked to load the bases and Rice used a pinch-hitter the Blazers did not want to see. Sophomore Jared Gayhart, who went 4-for-4 in the series-opener on Friday, delivered again with a single to right-center to score two more. Henley walked to re-load the bases and a sacrifice fly by Diego Seastrunk stretched the margin to 6-1.
Gayhart was at it again in the eighth inning. The former Katy High School star singled with two outs to make him 6-for-6 in the series. He scored on a double to the right field corner by Henley for a 7-1 advantage.
The Owls' 12 hits was plenty of offensive support for Berry. The freshman allowed just one unearned run on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Both the hits Berry surrendered were to J.R. Bond, the Blazers' senior centerfielder. Bond may have been the nemesis Saturday, but Berry was the man with the golden gun as he improved to 7-2 on the season. Ojala fired the final 1.1 frames without allowing a hit. He struck out one and walked one.
Rice improved to 36-11 on the season and 15-2 in C-USA action. UAB moved to 18-27 overall and 5-9 against the league. The weekend series concludes Sunday in Birmingham, Ala. Game time is slated for noon.