May 30, 2008
The Rice baseball team scored three runs on seven hits and the pitching tandem of Ryan Berry and Bobby Bell made it stand up as the Owls defeated longtime rival Sam Houston State 3-2 in the squad's opening game of the NCAA Houston Regional Tournament Friday evening at Reckling Park.
With the win Rice advances to play St. John's (a 2-1 winner over the Texas Longhorns in the first game of the day) in the Regional's winner's bracket game. That contest is slated for 6 pm on Saturday at Reckling Park. Texas meets Sam Houston State in an elimination game Saturday at 2 pm.
Sam Houston State jumped on a the scoreboard for a run in the top of the first inning. Todd Sebek started the game off with a base hit through the left side and advanced to second base on a ground out. He scored on a single up the middle by Bobby Verbick to make the score 1-0.
Rice put together a couple of hits to take the lead. Jimmy Comerota led it off with a single through the right side and he moved into scoring position with a walk to Derek Myers. Jared Gayhart singled to right to score Comerota and tie the game. Myers scored on a ground out that moved the Owls in front 2-1.
The Bearkats came right back and tied the game in the fourth. Nick Zaleski reached on a two-base Rice fielding error and scored on an RBI single by Braeden Riley to make it 2-2.
The Owls answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame. Rick Hague stroked a double down the left field line and moved to third on ground out. The freshman from Spring, Tex., hustled home on a sacrifice fly by Chad Mozingo to put Rice back in front 3-2.
That was all the room the Rice pitchers would need. Berry allowed just one earned run in 6.0 innings to earn his eighth win of the season. The sophomore from Humble, Tex., scattered seven hits and a walk while striking out four. Bell did not allow any hits or walks for the final three frames to earn his second save of the season. After sitting out almost all of 2007 with an injury, it was Bell's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2006.
Hague and Comerota led the Blue & Gray with two hits each to help the team improve to 43-13 on the season. It was the Owls 10th-straight win in an NCAA Regional game dating back to the 2005 season. Sam Houston fell to 37-24. Todd Sebek paced the Bearkats with a pair of hits and a run scored.