May 25, 2006
HOUSTON -- Senior Greg Buchanan an sophomore Tyler Henley combined for five hits and four RBI to help pace the number one ranked Rice baseball team to a 5-1 win over visiting Southern Miss in front of 2,592 fans in a second round winner's bracket game at the week-long Conference USA Tournament Thursday evening at Reckling Park. With the team's eighth win in a row the Owls earned a day off from tournament action Friday and return to play on Saturday at 12:30 pm against the winner of the Southern Miss-Memphis elimination game.
Rice opened the scoring with three runs in the second. Freshman Aaron Luna led off with an infield single and he was able to take second on a Southern Miss throwing error. Kenny Ford drew a two-out walk and Henley followed with a double down the right field to score Luna. Buchanan then singled to score Ford and Henley and the Owls stretched the margin to 3-0.
Southern Miss' Trey Sutton led off the bottom of the third with a base hit and he scored on a walk after the Owls loaded the bases. Rice worked out of the jam and came right back and regained the run in the top of the next frame. Jordan Dodson started the rally with a double to right center and he moved to third on a base hit by Ford. Henley drove Dodson home on a fielder's choice that made the score 4-1.
In the seventh Josh Rodriguez singled and dashed to third on a base hit to right by Joe Savery. A sacrifice fly by Luna made it 5-1. The Owls had the breathing room that allowed starter Bobby Bell to post a solid outing for his eighth win of the season without a loss. The sophomore from Aledo scattered four hits over 7.0 innings with two walks and six strikeouts. Bell improved to an undefeated 12-0 for his Rice career. He was relieved by senior Bryce Cox, who fired a pair of hitless frames with three strikeouts.
Rice improved to 48-10 on the year. Southern Miss fell to 38-20 overall. The Golden Eagles return to play Memphis in Friday's 6:30 pm elimination contest, the second of two games on the day's tournament schedule. Tulane meets East Carolina a 3 pm elimination contest. The tournament continues through Sunday (May 28). The championship final will be televised by CSTV.