May 7, 2008
HOUSTON -- The fourth-ranked Rice baseball team took an early lead with home run blasts by Jared Gayhart and Derek Myers and then hung on for a dramatic 4-2 victory over seventh-ranked Oklahoma State Wednesday evening at Reckling Park in Houston.
Of all the games across the nation Wednesday, the Rice-OSU match-up was between the two highest ranked teams. The contest delivered with a postseason-like air for the 3,316 fans in attendance, the Owls' second-largest crowd of the season.
It took only three pitches in the bottom of the first inning for Rice to get on the scoreboard. Gayhart slugged a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his sixth round-tripper of the year. It was the third time this year the junior from Katy has led off a game with a home run.
The Blue & Gray used some more extra-base hits to power its way to a three-run second. After Diego Seastrunk reached on a Cowboy fielding error, Chad Mozingo drove the ball off the wall in centerfield for a two-out triple that added the first run. Myers then blasted a two-run homer to left field that quickly made the score 4-0.
Oklahoma State was denied runs when men reached scoring position in the second and fourth, but the Cowboys took advantage of a Rice fielding error and used a longball of their own for a pair of runs in the sixth. Jordy Mercer reached on an error to start the inning and Neil Medchill hit his seventh home run of the year to cut the margin to 4-2.
That proved to be all the Rice pitching staff would allow. Sophomore right-hander Mike Ojala started allowed just one earned run for 5.1 innings. He struck out five to remain undefeated at 4-0. The bullpen trio of Matt Evers, Bobby Bell and Cole St.Clair handcuffed OSU over the final 3.2 innings, holding the hitters to just one hit while combining for six more strikeouts. St.Clair pitched the final frame to earn his team-leading fourth save of the season.
Rice improved to 36-11 on the season. OSU fell to 35-13. The Owls next host crosstown rival Houston in a three-game, Conference USA weekend series May 9-11. Game times are set for 6:30 pm on Friday, 2 pm on Saturday and 1 pm on Sunday. Not only is the Silver Glove Trophy on the line in the annual league showdown, Sunday's contest vs. UH is the final home game for seven Rice seniors.