May 18, 2006
CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Four players slugged three hits, highlighted by grand slam home runs from sophomore Brian Friday and freshman Aaron Luna, to pace a 26-hit attack as the number one-ranked Rice baseball cruised to a 26-6 Conference USA win over Marshall in the opening game of a three-game series Thursday afternoon at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia. The 26-run barrage is tied for the sixth-highest single game run total in school history and the most by an Owl team since a 27-run outburst in a win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the 1999 NCAA Regional in Lubbock.
Rice didn't have a hit until the third inning, but the team did have a 2-0 lead after two innings. A hit batter and base-on-balls put two men on, and three more walks with two away brought a pair home without a base hit. The Owls got it rolling in the third with three runs on six consecutive hits. Luna hit a one-out single that scored two and Jordan Dodson added a hit to give the Blue and Gray a 5-0 lead.
Marshall came right back with runs in the third and fourth to make the score 5-2, but in both innings Rice starter Eddie Degerman avoided significant damage by working out of back-to-back situations where the bases were loaded with no one out. With one run already in the third, Degerman struck out each of the next three batters to end the threat. In the fourth, he traded two outs for a run with a ground ball double play. A soft fly out brought the rally to an end.
Degerman would go on to improve his record to 10-1 on the season. The senior from Granada Hills, Calif., allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out four. By the time he left after six full innings the Owls were firmly in control of the contest.
Rice scored six runs on six hits in the fifth and six more on three hits, three walks and two hit batters in the sixth. The big blows were sophomore Tyler Henley's three-run homer in the fifth and Friday's first career grand slam an inning later. Friday's lone hit of the day extended his team-best hitting streak to 18 games.
Rice sent 12 men to the plate in the ninth inning while adding nine more runs. The big hit was Luna's first career grand slam on his team-leading 12th home run of the season. Luna moved into a tie for second place on Rice's all-time list for home runs by an Owl freshman with current major leaguer Bubba Crosby (12 home runs in 1996).
Henley, Luna, sophomore Danny Lehmann and senior Greg Buchanan all had three hits on the day. Henley and Luna finished with a team-best six RBI while Friday had four from his slam. Luna also scored six times on the afternoon to match the Marshall total while Joe Savery scored four runs.
Rice improved to 44-10 on the season and 20-2 in C-USA action. The Owls have won 26 of their last 26 games. Marshall fel to 22-28 overall and 6-16 against the league. The series continues through Saturday in Charleston. Each of the games at Appalachian Power Park is slated to start at 1 pm Central time.