May 10, 2006
The number one ranked Rice baseball team slugged 16 hits, highlighted by a 4-for-4 day from Tyler Henley, three-hits by Josh Rodriguez and a solid dual hitting/pitching performance by Joe Savery to pace the Owls to an 11-2 victory over visiting Lamar Wednesday evening at Reckling Park. Rice won its eighth game in a row and posted its 12-straight season with at least 40 wins.
Rice broke a 5-2 game wide open with six runs in the seventh. The Blue & Gray sent 10 men to the plate behind five hits, a hit batter and Cardinal fielding error. Even with a big lead late, Rice fans were still cheering in the ninth inning. That's when, after a 3-for-5 night at the plate with a triple and three RBI, Savery moved from first base to the pitcher's mound for the first time since March 26. The left-hander served notice in his pitching return, striking out each of the three batters he faced to end the game.
Rice jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore Brian Friday led off with a double down the right field line for his team-leading 19th of the season. He advanced to third on a ground out to the right side and scored on a base hit up the middle by junior Josh Rodriguez.
The Owls added a run in the third and two more in the fourth. Henley was hit by a pitch to lead off the third and he moved into scoring position on sacrifice bunt by Friday. He took third on ground out and came home on sophomore Joe Savery's two-out single into center. In the fourth Adam Zornes drew a leadoff walk and Aaron Luna sacrificed him to second. Zornes scored on a single to right by Danny Lehmann. Henley followed with another base hit to right to get Lehmann to second and a two-out single by Savery added another to stretch the margin to 4-0.
The Cardinals came right back with two runs in the top of the fifth. Matt Lambeth and Ryan Baker led off with back-to-back singles and both runners advanced on a double-steal. A sacrifice fly by Erik Kanaby scored Lambeth and a single by Jo Jo Haney made the score 4-2.
Rice got a run back in the sixth after a Henley double and consecutive sacrifice bunts. The Owls were sharp offensively despite taking taking nine days off for final exams. Not only did the team club 16 hits, but also execute a season-high four sacrifice attempts.
Sophomore starting pitcher Will McDaniel was effective in holding a 31-win Lamar team to just two runs on six hits. He worked 5.1 innings and struck out a career-high six to improve his season record to 6-1. The relief trio of Bobby Bramhall, Craig Crow and Savery combined to hold the Cardinals to no runs on three hits with seven strikeouts for the final 3.2 frames.
Rice improved to 40-9 on the season. The Owls have won 22 of their last 23 games. Lamar fell to 31-19 overall.
The Owls continue the current four-game homestand with a three-game Conference USA series this weekend. Rice hosts crosstown rival Houston at Reckling Park Friday-Sunday with a chance to clinch the regular season C-USA title and top seed at the league's postseason tournament. Game times with the Cougars are 7 pm, 2 pm and 1 pm, respectively.