HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team had strong outing from junior Jon Duplantier to claim 5-1 victory over visiting Charlotte in the opening game of a Conference USA double-header Friday evening at Reckling Park. The 49ers bounced back to win the nightcap 1-0 heading into Saturday's 2 pm series finale.
With the two-game split The Owls are now 26-14 on the season and 14-6 in C-USA league play. Charlotte is 19-25 overall and 8-12 in conference. Both teams beat the weather, completing both games a series-opening twin-bill to avoid unfavorable weather conditions anticipated for the area this weekend.
Not even Mother Nature might have been able to do much against Duplantier in game one. The right-hander from Katy, Texas, scattered three hits and one walk while striking out 12 in a commanding 8.0 innings of work. He reached double-digit strikeouts for the fifth time season while improving to 5-4 on the year.
His Owl teammates on the offensive end supported him with five runs in the middle innings, highlighted by a solo home run from Dane Myers. The Blue & Gray closed out the contest with 12 hits.
Rice senior left-hander Blake Fox followed with a solid start of his own in game two, only this time the Owl bats were held in check and the game's lone run was all Charlotte would need. A solo homer by T.J. Nichting to start the fifth was the only damage as Fox posted eight strikeouts in 7.1 innings.
The Owls had five hits and drew a pair of walks, but hit into two double plays and only three at bats with a runner in scoring position (all in the eighth inning). The 49er pitching tandem of Colton Laws and Holden Capps made the narrow margin stand. The teams will try and complete the C-USA series on Saturday, but have until Sunday to work with if needed.