April 29, 2006
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sophomores Joe Savery and Brian Friday combined for six of the team's 11 hits and both runs scored while sophomore right-hander Bobby Bell was sound and solid for a season-long 7.2 innings as the number-one ranked Rice baseball team edged UFC 2-1 in game two of the Conference USA weekend series Saturday evening in Orlando, Fla. With the win the Owls won their 16th C-USA game in a row and the team clinched its 15th-straight conference series dating back to March of 2005.
Like the 2-0 win in the opening game of the series Friday night, the Owls and Golden Knights were locked in a scoreless pitcher's duel before breaking through for runs late in the contest. The game was 0-0 for six innings until the Owls scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh. UCF rallied for one run and was threatening for more, but the Blue and Gray held on for the win as well as sole possession of first place in the C-USA standings.
The difference from the series-opener was the Owls were getting hits and applying offensive pressure from the start. Rice had the bases loaded in the first inning, the leadoff man on base in the second and men in scoring position in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
In the seventh Brian Friday laced a pitch into right field for a base hit and he stole second with one away to move into scoring position. Savery followed with a single up the middle to bring Friday home for a 1-0 lead. The Owls added another run in the inning without a hit as Savery advanced two stations on a pair of wild pitches that rolled back to the wall behind home plate.
That seemed to be all the room Bell needed. Bell worked into the eighth before allowing the lone run of the game. He scattered six hits and walked two while striking out two. In eighth UCF third baseman Tyson Auer led off with a double to left field and he scored on a pair of ground outs. Bell gave way to reliever Bobby Bramhall after working his longest outing of the season and the second-longest of his Rice career.
The Golden Knights tried one final time to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth when Kiko Vazquez led off with a double to center field. Bramhall coolly got a shallow fly out, strikeout on four pitches and fielder's choice ground out to end the game. The sophomore from College Station earned his third save of the season while Bell moved to 6-0.
Rice improved to 38-9 on the season and 16-1 in league play. The Golden Knights fell to 22-23 overall and 5-9 in conference. The series concludes Sunday at noon Central time.