May 20, 2006
CHARLESTON, WVa. -- Junior Josh Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs and the pitching duo of junior Craig Crow and sophomore Joe Savery combined on a six-hit shutout as the number one ranked Rice baseball team coasted to a 12-0 Conference USA win over Marshall in a run rule-shortened seven inning series finale before a crowd of 1,749 Saturday afternoon at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia.
It was the fourth time this season, and the second time in as many C-USA series, that umpires stopped a Rice game when the Owls were up by more than 10 runs after seven innings. Rice completed the three-game series sweep of the Thundering Herd with the team's third-straight outing of double-digit runs and with at least 16 hits.
After a 14-10 offensive slugfest on Friday, Saturday's contest didn't have any runs in either of the first two innings despite Rice having the bases loaded with no one out in the first and Marshall having two men on base in each of the first two frames.
The Owls broke the game wide open with a big six-run third and three more runs in both the fourth and seventh. In the third, senior Greg Buchanan led off with a solo shot to right field for his fifth home run of the season. Brian Friday walked and scored on a two-run homer to left by Rodriguez. Each of the next three men reached base on a walk, a single and sacrifice attempt that handcuffed the Thundering Herd for a fielding error. Sophomore Jordan Dodson lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score one and freshman Adam Zornes singled in two more to stretch the Rice lead to 6-0.
In the fourth Rodriguez and Joe Savery led off with a double and single, respectively, and both scored on consecutive base hits by freshman Aaron Luna and sophomore Danny Lehmann. Luna advanced to third on a Zornes' second base hit of the game and he scored on a one-out sacrifice fly to left by Tyler Henley to make it 9-0.
That was more than enough room on the scoreboard for Crow, as the junior right-hander notched one of his best outings of the year at the hitter-friendly minor league facility. Crow scattered five hits over 5.0 innings without allowing a run. He struck out five and walked only one on the way to his seventh win of the season. Savery replaced him on the mound and was just as sharp for his two innings. Savery allowed just one hit and walked two in preserving the team's fifth shutout win of the season.
Rice had a 9-0 lead heading into the seventh and delivered the run-rule knock-out with three more runs powered by two more round-trippers. Henley punched a base hit through the right side to lead-off the inning and sophomore Brian Friday blasted a two-run shot to left to stretch the margin to 11-0. The hit in his last at bat of the day extended Friday's team-leading hitting streak to 20-straight games. Rodriguez followed with his second homer of the day to make it 12-0.
For the three-game C-USA series, Rice scored a total of 52 runs on 55 hits with 10 home runs. The Owls hit .433 as a team with a .795 slugging percentage. The team also patiently drew 21 walks and was hit six times for a .526 on-base percentage.
Rice improved to 46-10 overall with wins in 28 of their last 30 games. The Owls closed out the C-USA regular season at 22-2 and set new league records for best C-USA win percentage (.917) and fewest conference losses (2). The team also set a new mark for most conference series won in a year by taking all eight series on the schedule. Marshall fell to 22-30 overall and 6-18 in C-USA action.
The Owls next compete at the 2006 C-USA Baseball Tournament to be held May 24-28 at home at Reckling Park. Rice plays at 4 pm Wednesday against a team to be announced at at a later time. The championship final of the tournament is slated for a 1 pm on May 28 (Sunday) and will be televised by CSTV.