May 29, 2009
HOUSTON -- Junior pitcher Mike Ojala fired 7.0 steady innings and sophomore Chad Mozingo went 3-for-4 with a run scored to pace the Rice baseball team to a 5-2 victory over visiting Sam Houston State in the opening round of the NCAA Regional Friday evening at Reckling Park in Houston.
With the win the Owls advance to meet Kansas State in Saturday's second-round winners-bracket game. In the Regional's first game at Reckling Park, Kansas State defeated Xavier 16-8. Rice and KSU are scheduled for a 6 pm start Saturday. Sam Houston and Xavier meet in an elimination game at 2 pm.
Rice had to rally for the lead after Sam Houston State jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the top of the first inning. Bearkat third baseman Ryan Mooney knocked a pitch over the wall in left field for a 1-0 lead.
That however was all the damage Ojala would allow for 7.0 innings in his second-longest outing of the season. The Rice offense battled back for a run in the bottom of the second. Freshman Anthony Rendon led off with a single to left and hustled to third on a base hit to left-center by Mozingo. Michael Fuda beat out a ground ball to the right side for a base hit and an RBI that plated Rendon and tied the game, 1-1.
The Owls moved in front with a run in the third. Brock Holt singled through the left side and moved into scoring position on a Bearkat wild pitch. Rick Hague dropped a base hit into right-center and Holt dashed for home and a 2-1 lead.
Rice took advantage of two Sam Houston miscues for a third run. With two away, Jimmy Comerota reached on a fielding error and Holt followed with a double into the right field corner. On the throw back in to the infield, the ball got away from the Bearkat defenders and Comerota alertly broke for home.
The Blue & Gray added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to stretch the margin to 5-1. Mozingo collected his third hit of the night and scored on a base hit by Ryan Lewis. A single and a walk loaded the bases and another walk forced in the final run.
Sam Houston continued to fight and scratched out a run in the top of the ninth. Tyler Knight drew a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. He scored on Adam DeLaGarza's single for a 5-2 final.
Ojala stayed undefeated with his fifth win of the season. The standout from Kingwood, Tex., allowed seven hits, two walks and struck out four in his longest outing since mid-March. Mark Haynes pitched the final two frames for his first save of the season and the second of his career. Haynes scattered two hits and one walk.
The hot-hitting Mozingo finished with his third three-hit game in his last seven outings. Rice improved to 40-15 on the season. The Owls have won at least 40 games a year for each of the last 15 consecutive seasons. Sam Houston fell to 36-23 overall. Action in the NCAA Regional continues through the weekend.