Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (email@example.com)
Biloxi, Miss. -- The Rice baseball team fell to FAU 9-8 in 10 innings early Sunday morning in an elimination game at the Conference USA Championship in Biloxi, Mississippi. The Owls' 2018 season has come to an end, and it also marks the end of the sensational Wayne Graham era at Rice University.
Rice was first on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the first inning. When FAU ended the frame at close to 9:20 pm, the game was suspended for an hour due to more weather concerns that played a part in the tournament all week. FAU took the lead 3-1 when the game finally resumed an hour later, and went on the way to post a 9-8 final score in extra innings well into Sunday morning.
FAU next plays in Sunday afternoon's C-USA Championship Final. Rice won the event one year ago and was the defending champion.
The 2017 baseball championship was the program's 21st league title, all earned on coach Graham's watch. He closes out his Rice tenure with 1,173 wins and a .689 win percentage that is the best in school history. Another way of looking at the .689 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 111 games in a single year -- except Graham maintained that eye-opening pace for 27 seasons on South Main.
Graham's team was fighting until the end. Rice regained the lead with three-run third and the teams exchanged scoring runs in the middle frames. FAU was threatening for a big inning in the bottom of the sixth, but the Blue & Gray turned and electric round-the-horn 5-4-3 triple play to send it to the seventh. FAU tied the score, 8-8, with three runs in the eighth and pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the tenth.
In finishing with a 26-31-2 overall record Rice's quest of a 24th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament has also come to an end. Rice's streak of 23-straight NCAA appearances was the third longest active streak in college baseball.