Rice Reaches C-USA Championship Final With 7-5 Win Over ODU

May 24, 2014

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Rice baseball team used a big four-run inning with an 11-hit attack to claim a 7-5 victory over Old Dominion in Saturday's `second' elimination game at the Conference USA Tournament in Hattiesburg, Miss.

With the win the Owls advance to meet the winner of the night's late UTSA-Southern Miss game in the tournament's Championship Final. The Championship Final is scheduled for 1 pm Sunday at Pete Taylor Park and will be televised by CBS Sports Net.

Playing as the visiting team for the second-straight game, Rice began the contest the way the team ended the morning session a few hours before (a 3-2 Owl loss in the bottom of the ninth inning). Rice made two fielding errors that contributed to half of ODU's two runs in the top of the first.

Rice struck for a run in the top of the second, and then tied the score in the third. Skyler Ewing knocked a one-out double to left, moved to second on a ground out and scored on a base hit up the middle by Leon Byrd. Connor Teykl led off the top of the third with a double to left. He advanced on an infield base hit by Ford Stainback and trotted home on Shane Hoelscher's sacrifice fly.

The Monarchs regained the advantage in the fourth. ODU scored an unearned run after two more Rice errors to make it a 3-2 game.

The Owls bounced right back with four runs in the top of the fifth. Hoelscher reached on a fielder's choice and walks to Michael Aquino and Ewing loaded the bases. Chase McDowell followed with a double to right-center to drive all three home. John Clay Reeves singled-home McDowell to put Rice up by three, 6-3.

Rice redshirt sophomore Matt Ditman entered the game on the mound in the bottom of the fifth, but ODU would not go away so easily. The Monarchs scored an unearned run to make it 6-4 when the Owls had trouble finding the handle on the ball in the sixth. Rice quickly got the run back in the seventh on a towering home run to left center-center by Ewing that crashed off the very top of the stadium scoreboard (a full 30-plus feet above the warning track).

ODU scored one final run in the eighth on an RBI single by catcher Mike Perez that cut the margin to 7-5. Ditman was back on track with a scoreless bottom of the ninth, ending the game with his sixth strikeout. The Richmond, Texas, native worked a total of 5.0 innings in relief, allowing one earned run on five hits and a walk for his fifth victory.

Rice is now 40-18 on the season. The Owls have won at least 40 games in 20-consecutive seasons dating back to 1995. Old Dominion dropped to 36-24 overall.

In the day's first game Rice twice had leads, but ODU rallied with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim a 3-2 win.

The tournament concludes with a one-game championship final on Sunday (May 25).





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