May 19, 2006
CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Sophomore Brian Friday and freshman Aaron Luna combined for six hits, including three home runs and 12 RBI, to spark another offensive outburst by the number one ranked Rice baseball team as the Owls out-slugged Conference USA foe Marshall 14-10 in the second game of a three-game series Friday afternoon at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia.
Like Rice's 21-hit barrage in the series opening 26-6 win on Thursday, the Owls were at it again offensively in game two. Rice registered 14 runs on 18 hits for the team's second-largest back-to-back run total of the season. The difference from game one to game two was that Rice needed to continue the offensive pressure as Marshall's bats came alive for 10 runs on 12 hits.
The Owls jumped on the score board for five runs in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Tyler Henley reached on a fielding error and Friday hit his first home run of the day and second of series, to left-center for a 2-0 lead. Three consecutive doubles by Joe Savery, Luna and Danny Lehmann and an RBI single by Adam Zornes stretched the margin to 5-0.
Marshall however came right back with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first and two more runs on three hits in the third to cut the lead to 5-4. In the Rice fourth Henley hit a leadoff double and a Greg Buchanan followed with a single to put the first two men on base. Friday knocked them in with his second home run of the day to give him five quick RBI in three at bats. The Blue and Gray added another run with a Lehmann single to make the score 9-4 after four.
Rice tallied another four runs in the fifth inning on the strength of a two-out grand slam home run by Luna. Luna's 13th round-tripper of the year was his second grand slam in as many days and also tied him for first place on Rice's all-time list for home runs by a freshman with current major league star Jose Cruz, Jr., who hit 15 in his first Division I season in 1993.
With a 13-4 lead through four-and-a-half, the appeared close to duplicating the series opener. The Thundering Herd continued to hit and batted around in the fifth on the way to six runs on six hits and a walk. When the dust at Appalachian Power Park cleared, the Owls were holding only a three-run lead, 13-10, with four full innings left to play.
Senior Bryce Cox answered the call out of the Rice bullpen and brought an end to the offensive fireworks. Cox ended the Marshall fifth with a double-play grounder and proceeded to fire three no-hit innings with two strikeouts. He was replaced in the eighth by sophomore left-hander Cole St.Clair, who pitched two more no-hit innings to close out the game. St.Clair notched four strikeouts and would have picked up a save for his work in the final two frames had not Rice scored one final run before he took the hill.
In the top of the eighth Buchanan walked and scored from first on a double by Friday for a 14-10 final. Friday was 4-for-5 with 6 RBI, three runs scored a double and home run. Luna was 2-for-6 with a grand slam and double for five RBI. Six different players had two or more hits
Rice improved to 45-10 on the season and 22-2 in C-USA action. The Owls have won 27 of their last 29 games. Marshall fell to 22-29 overall and 6-17 against the league. The series concludes Sunday in Charleston. The start time at Appalachian Power Park is scheduled for 1 pm Central time.