May 30, 2009
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team battled for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the rally came up just short and Kansas State hung-on for a 7-6 victory over the Owls in the winner's bracket game of the NCAA Houston Regional Saturday evening at Reckling Park.
Trailing 7-3 to start the bottom of the ninth inning, Rice rallied for three runs on three hits and a Kansas State error to pull within a run, 7-6. The Blue & Gray had the potential tying run on third base and the winning run on second before the Wildcats could end the threat.
Down but not out in the double-elimination format, the Owls next play Xavier on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. The winner of that game advances to meet Kansas State in a possible championship game for the Wildcats at 6 pm Sunday. If any team other than Kansas State wins Sunday night's game, there will be one final game to determine Regional champion on Monday (June 1).
Rice opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Brock Holt led off with a single and advanced two bases on a single through the left side. Diego Seastrunk knocked a double off the wall in right-center to score one. Rick Hague was then retired at home on a fielder's choice, but Seastrunk advanced to third on the play. Seastrunk scored on fielder's choice by Chad Mozingo and the Owls were in front 2-0 after one.
Kansas State came right back with a two-out rally for a run in the top of the second. Drew Biery doubled into the right field corner. He scored on a single through the right side by Jordan Cruz to cut the margin to one, 2-1.
The Owls went station-to-station for a run in its half of the second. Steven Sultzbaugh looped a hit that dropped-in fair near the right field foul line. Sultzbaugh went to second on a ground out behind the mound and he moved to third on a grounder to the left side. He made it home on a Kansas State wild pitch that put Rice in front 3-1.
The Wildcats answered with another two-out score in the third. Adam Muenster singled up the middle and stole second to move into scoring position. Nick Martini lined a base hit up the middle for the RBI. Kansas State tied it up in the sixth with an unearned run. Carter Jurica led off with a single to center and advanced to second on a ground out. He went to third on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on Justin Bloxom's sacrifice fly.
Rice appeared to be getting some momentum from its defense in the eighth, but no sooner had the Owls threw out a would be base-stealer Bloxom knocked a pitch over the left field wall for a solo home run. His twelfth round-tripper of the season put KSU in front 4-3.
Kansas State added three more insurance runs in the top of the ninth which proved to be critical. Rice hit two batters and surrendered a bunt single to load the bases. Martini drove them all home with a two-out double to make it 7-3.
Sultzbaugh led off the bottom of the ninth with a triple and he scored on an RBI single by Jimmy Comerota. Holt reached on an error and Seastrunk walked to load the bases. Anthony Rendon jammed a single down the right field line to score one. Another run scored on a Mozingo ground out. KSU worked out of the jam with a game-ending strikeout.
The contest featured two former high school teammates starting against each other on the mound. Wildcat starting pitcher A.J. Morris pitched a complete game for the victory. He allowed 13 hits and two walks in his 14th win of the season. Junior Ryan Berry started on the mound for the Owls and fell to 7-1 with his first loss of the season. Berry allowed three earned runs on 11 hits with no walks while striking out six.
Kansas State improved to 43-16-1 on the year. Rice fell to 40-16 overall.