HOUSTON -- Sophomore outfielder Ryan Chandler registered a career-best four hits to lead a Rice season-high 17-hit attack in the Owls' 12-4 Conference USA victory over visiting Charlotte Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park in Houston.
With the win Rice has claimed the three-game C-USA weekend series over the 49ers 2-games-to-1. The series was moved up to avoid some previously expected weather conditions in the area and there is now no game scheduled for Sunday. The Owls improved to 17-14 overall and 15-6 in league play to secure a share of first place in the C-USA standings when all the conference games conclude Sunday as scheduled.
After getting shutout at home in the second game of Friday's double-header where just a single run could have altered the eventual 1-0 outcome, the Owls made sure Saturday's contest would be as different as possible. Rice pounded-out a season high 17 hits and lit up the scoreboard with double-digit runs for the second time this year.
Five Owls tallied at least two hits, and five also drove-home two runs. Chandler led the way with a career-high 4-for-5 day that included a double, two RBI and two runs scored.
It was Charlotte that jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by T.J. Nichting to score Logan Sherer. Rice responded, however, with five big runs in the bottom of the frame.
The 49ers came back with two in the second to cut the lead to two, 5-3, and were looking for more in the top of third with the bases-loaded and no outs. The Owls went to right-hander Glenn Otto early out of the bullpen, and the sophomore stopper worked out of the predicament with back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out.
Avoiding further damage gave the Rice offense another spark. The Blue & Gray came right back and added four more runs in the bottom of the third to extend the margin to 9-3. The Owls went on to add two more runs in the fifth and a final score in the eighth on the way to the 12-4 final.
Rice has one more game left in the current homestand. The Owls next play longtime rival Lamar on Wednesday, May 4. Start time against the red-hot Cardinals is slated for 6:30 pm at Reckling Park.