May 4, 2011
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HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team reached double digit hits, including a season-high five doubles, and six Owl pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts on the way to a 9-1 victory over visiting Stephen F. Austin in a non-conference clash Wednesday evening at Reckling Park.
The game was Rice's first action since April 23 due to the University's final exams period held last week. With the pressure of semester finals now completed the Owls were relaxed, yet sharp, on both the offensive and defensive sides Wednesday night.
Rice jumped on the scoreboard for a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Keenan Cook, J.T. Chargois and Anthony Rendon all hit safely to start it off and give the Blue & Gray a quick run. Chargois then scored on a RBI grounder to the right side that made it 2-0.
The Owls stretched the margin to 5-0 over the next two frames. In the bottom of the second, Michael Fuda drew a one-out walk and scored on a double to right-center by Cook. In the third, Rendon drew a one-out walk and Michael Ratterree doubled to put runners on second and third base. Rendon trotted home on Craig Manuel's sacrifice fly. Shane Hoelscher then doubled-home Ratterree for a 5-0 advantage.
That was more than enough room for six Rice pitchers who, by design, all got a turn to get back to work. Taylor Wall started and threw 2.2 scoreless frames. He was followed by Jeremy Fant for 2.1 innings, Tyler Duffey for 1.1, John Simms (0.2), Matthew Reckling and Tony Cingrani (1.0). The six hurlers held the 30-win Lumberjacks to a single run on eight hits and one walk. The Owls also combined for 12 strikeouts, the 20th time this season for Rice to post double-digit Ks.
The Rice staff benefited from a pair of double-plays, the first of which derailed what could have escalated into a big inning for the Lumberjacks in the fifth. Down 5-0, SFA strung together three-straight singles to load the bases with none away. A run came home as the Owls turned a double-play, but the threat was over with an inning ending strikeout.
The Owls would go on to add four more runs in the sixth that effectively put the game out of reach at 9-1. The big blow was a bases-clearing double by Rendon. He finished the night getting on base four times, going 2-for-3 with a walk and was hit by a pitch. He also drove-in four runs for his second-highest RBI output of the season. Cook, Holescher and Ryan Lewis joined Rendon with two hits on the nights. The Blue & Gray was able to get its leadoff batter on base in five of the eight offensive innings and was 9-for-24 (.375) when batting with men in scoring position.
Rice improved to 29-16 overall. SFA moved to 30-14 on the season.
The Owls return to C-USA action on May 6 with the start of a three-game Conference USA league series across town at the University of Houston. All three games of the series are slated for a television broadcast by Comcast Sports Southwest. Game times with the Cougars are set for 6:30 pm on Friday, 3 pm on Saturday and 1 pm in Sunday's series finale.