May 5, 2013
Rice won each of the final two games on the weekend to take the C-USA series, 2-1. The Owls improved to 31-15 on the year and 11-7 in C-USA league play. UAB dropped to 18-31 overall and 4-14 in conference.
Upset-minded UAB put runs on the scoreboard with two outs in each of the first two innings. In the bottom of the first Harry Clark singled-home Ivan De Jesus after a leadoff walk and sacrifice. In the second De Jesus drove in Jeff Schalk after a leadoff single and sac bunt.
Rice came right back with a run in the top of the third. Michael Aquino and Geoff Perrott stroked base hits to the left side. Both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Skyler Ewing. Aquino trotted home on an RBI grounder by Leon Byrd to make it 2-1 UAB.
The Owls tied the game in the fourth. Senior Michael Ratterree led off the frame with a towering home run to left field. The round-tripper was Ratterree's eighth homer of the season and the 30th of his collegiate career.
The Blazers regained the advantage in their half of the fourth. Rice issued three walks and a Tyler Hamby base hit did the damage. UAB scored one run and was looking for more with the bases-loaded, but Owl relievers Chase McDowell and Blake Fox each did a part to work out of the jam and keep the deficit at just 3-2. McDowdell deflected a sharp comeback shot to the mound with his foot, gathered the ball and retired a Blazer runner with a force at home plate. Fox faced the next batter, a left-hander, and also fielded a come-back grounder to end the inning.
Thwarting the Blazers' momentum was critical as Rice was able to tie the score in the top of the sixth. Aquino blasted a UAB pitch over the wall in left field for a solo homer. His sixth shot of the year knotted the contest up at 3-3.
Fox proceeded to shut out UAB for the next 4.1 innings. The freshman left-hander scattered two hits and two walks while striking out three. The Rice defense turned double plays in the sixth and seventh before the offense came up big in the eighth.
Shane Hoelscher and Aquino led off with consecutive hits and Perrott was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A fielder's choice by Leon Byrd scored one and a double to left-center by Christian Stringer plated two more.
The Owls were in business with a 6-3 lead but didn't stop there. The Blue & Gray added one more insurance run in the ninth after a double by Hoelscher and two-out triple by Perrot.
Owl reliever Zech Lemond made the 7-3 margin stand up with a scoreless ninth. Rice posted its second-straight win. The Owls finished with a total of 14 hits, including five that went for extra bases. Perrott and Aquino led all players with three hits each. Fox meanwhile improved to 5-0 on the mound.
Rice has one more game on its current road swing. The Owls face former and future conference rival Louisiana Tech on Wednesday (May 8). The team returns home to Reckling Park for a three-game C-USA series against Memphis beginning on Friday (May 8).