May 13, 2011
HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team jumped out to an early 8-1 lead and then hung-on for a dramatic 10-6 victory over visiting Memphis in the opening game of a three-game Conference USA weekend series Friday evening at Reckling Park.
After Memphis struck for the game's opening run in the top of the second inning, the Owls exploded for a total of eight runs by scoring four in the third and another four in the fourth. In the third the Tigers walked the bases loaded and Rice freshman Shane Hoelscher delivered a two-RBI double to put the Owls in front 2-1. Two more Memphis walks forced-in a run and a Derek Hamilton's sacrifice fly made it 4-1.
Anthony Rendon led off the bottom of the fourth with his fifth home run of the season. Michael Ratterree followed with a triple that extended his consecutive-game hitting streak to a team-best 19-straight. After a Craig Manuel walk, Ratterree scored on an RBI single by Hoelscher. Manuel later scored on a fielder's choice and Hoelscher came home on a wild pitch.
Memphis continued to battle. The Tigers scored an unearned run in the fifth and two more in the seventh to cut the margin to four, 8-4.
Rice got two of the runs back in the bottom of the seventh. Chargois doubled and Rendon drew his NCAA-leading 68th of the season. Memphis' eleventh walk of the game (to Ratterree) forced the runners into scoring position, and the duo scored Manuel's single to center to make it 10-4.
There was still, however, some final drama for the ninth inning. Chad Zurcher started the ninth with a Tiger base hit and four-consecutive walks forced-in two runs. Rice still held a 10-6 lead, but Memphis still had the bases loaded with no outs.
Rice reliever Tyler Duffey, the Owls' fourth pitcher of the game and second in the inning, ended the threat with three-straight stikeouts for a 10-6 final. The Blue & Gray improved to 34-16 overall and 13-6 in league play. Memphis moved to 26-22 on the season and 9-10 in conference action.
Hoelscher, Chargois and Ratterree all collected two hits on the night in a 10-hit Rice attack. Freshman right-hander Austin Kubitza started on the mound and improved to 5-3 after 6.1 innings of work. Kubitza allowed three earned runs on eight singles while striking out six.
The C-USA series continues through Sunday at Reckling Park. Saturday's start time is set for 2 pm. Sunday's series finale is slated for a 1 pm first pitch.