BOCA RATON, Fla. - Double-digit hits and two more solid pitching performances, this time by Kevin McCanna and Austin Orewiler, helped lift the Rice baseball team to a 5-1 road victory at No. 12 ranked FAU in the middle game of the C-USA weekend series Saturday afternoon in Boca Raton, Fla.
After a 6-0 shutout Friday Rice has claimed the first two games of the key conference series. With six-straight wins overall, as well as 10 wins in the last 11 games, Rice improved to improve to 32-16 on the season and a C-USA leading 19-7 in league play. FAU is now 36-13 on the season and 17-9 in conference.
The Blue & Gray may have been coming off a shutout pitching performance Friday, but Saturday it was the Rice offense who quickly put the hurlers at ease with some early support. In the top of the first inning Ryan Chandler stroked a leadoff single and reached third after FAU had an error on Ford Stainback's fielder's choice. The trio of Charlie Warren, John Clay Reeves and Connor Teykl all followed with consecutive singles and just like that, McCanna had a 3-0 lead to work with.
McCanna went on to fire 5.2 scoreless frames in a sunny day where the temperatures around the high 80s. The veteran right-hander scattered five hits and two walks while striking out two. He worked out of jams in the second and third innings, and was relieved by Austin Orewiler in the sixth when runners reached first and third.
Orewiler ended that threat with a strikeout and then converted the momentum in to a run in the top of the sixth. A leadoff error by FAU put one on base and John Williamson reached on a fielder's choice, but a wide throw to first base on the play allowed Williamson an extra 90 feet to scoring position. Freshman Ryan Chandler made the most of the opportunity with an RBI double to left-center to make the score 4-0.
FAU tried to rally in the seventh with a hit and a pair of walks, but Orewiler averted any runs with an infield pop-up and electric inning-ending strikeout. Again, Rice turned the defensive momentum of that inning into a run in its next time to bat. In the top of the eighth freshman Tristan Gray punched a one-out base hit through the right side, and then sprinted for home on Kirby Taylor's double to the gap in left-center.
FAU continued to battle, and scored the game's final run in the bottom of the ninth on three-consecutive singles. The run snapped a scoreless streak by the Rice pitchers that reached 30-consecutive innings dating back to April 26 at Western Kentucky.
Orewiler still earned his third save of the season with 3.1 innings of work where he struck out four. On the offensive side, Chandler had three of Rice's 11 hits to tie a career-high. The rookie drove in one and scored a run.
The C-USA weekend series concludes on Sunday (May 10). Start time is set for 11 am (Central Time).