HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The Rice baseball team tied a season-high with 13 runs, and needed every one while also holding-off a late Louisiana Tech rally as the Owls claimed a 13-12 victory over the Bulldogs in the opening game of the C-USA Tournament Wednesday afternoon in Hattiesburg, Miss.
With the win Rice advanced to the winner’s bracket game of the week-long double-elimination tournament held at Southern Miss’ Pete Taylor Park. The Owls next play on Thursday (May 26) at 4 pm against the winner of the Florida Atlantic-Charlotte first round game.
LA Tech was first on the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the top of the season inning, but Rice exploded for a season-high nine runs in the bottom of the frame. The Owls sent 14 men to the plate in a nine-hit barrage. The big blow was a two-out, bases-loaded grand slam by true freshman Ford Proctor to straight-away center field. Proctor’s second round-tripper of the season, and also his second homer in just four days, made it 7-2. The team wasn’t finished however and added two more runs in the inning and another run in the fourth to make it 10-4.
The Owls were wise to keep battling against a LA Tech squad that had just claimed each of the three games of the C-USA series in Ruston over the weekend. The Bulldogs chipped away for a run in the fifth, three more in the sixth, and another in the eighth to pull within one, 10-9. Rice countered with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the eighth to go back up by four, 13-9. The runs proved to be huge as LA Tech again fought back for three runs on five hits in the top of the ninth inning. The Bulldogs had the potential tying run at first base and another man on first before the Owls finally ended the slugfest.
The Blue & Gray finished with a season-high 18 hits. Senior Connor Teykl, who had been sidelined with an injury, responded to his first starting assignment in almost two weeks by going a season-best 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Senior Hunter Kopycinski and junior Charlie Warren both finished with three-hits on the afternoon.
Rice is now 33-20 overall and snapped a five-game losing streak. LA Tech is 37-17 on the season.