MIAMI, Fla. -- Like an elite thoroughbred, with a long and distinct Rice baseball pedigree, Owl senior Blake Fox went wire-to-wire Saturday for a big milestone win.
With the stakes getting higher and higher as the C-USA field heads down the homestretch, Fox posted the best game of his collegiate career - a complete game six-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts to help lead Rice to a 3-0 Conference USA road victory over FIU Saturday evening in Miami, Fla.
The Owls' three-run lead may have seemed a little too close all game long, but it proved to be more than enough room for Fox on a career night. The left-hander from Bellaire, Texas, held the heavy-hitting Panthers to five singles and a double on the way to his first complete game (as well as the first 9.0 inning shutout) of his Rice career. He registered ten strikeouts without any walks, and only three of the 31 batters he faced reached as many as three balls in the count.
The victory was Fox' 30th overall at Rice, moving him into a tie for fifth place on the school's all-time list for wins. The veteran from nearby Episcopal High School is the Owls' active leader in career wins, starts (44), innings (304.0) and strikeouts (220).
On top of Fox' individual effort, Rice also managed to win its 30th game of the season and stay tied atop the C-USA standings with a 17-6 league record. FIU is now 22-26 on the season and 9-14 in conference. The Blue & Gray has won both of the first two games of the three-game weekend series, both by shutouts. The finale is scheduled for Sunday (May 8) at 11 am Central Time (noon in Miami, Fla.).
The Rice offense struck for a run with two outs in the top of the first inning. True freshman Ford Proctor lined a double to the gap in right-center and an infield single by Tristan Gray put runners at the corners. Proctor alertly hustled home on an FIU wild pitch for a 1-0 Rice lead.
The Owls added two more in the fourth. Connor Teykl and Dominic DiCaprio hit consecutive one-out singles, and the runners advanced 90 feet on a ground out to the right side. The Blue & Gray found some more two-out magic with a single to right field by Charlie Warren that plated both runs and stretched the margin to 3-0.
FIU had runners reach second base in both the first and second innings before being retired without any damage. After a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh, Fox ended the that threat with a strikeout. The Owl defense turned a textbook 6-4-3 double-play to end the game after a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth.