By John Sullivan
HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team defeated crosstown foe Houston Baptist in Sunday afternoon's re-started early elimination game of the NCAA Tournament by a score of 3-1. The Owls are still alive in the double-elimination format and next play at 8 pm across town at UH's Cougar Field. Rice meets the loser of Sunday's Houston-Louisiana game (which had not yet concluded as of press time), in what will also serve as an elimination game.
After the game's first pitch was originally thrown on Saturday afternoon, the contest was delayed a day due to weather conditions. Rice had just plated a run in the top of the fourth on doubles by Ford Stainback and Ryan Chandler when a curtain of rain brought the game's first act to a close. The Owls quickly added another score to open Sunday's act two. Chandler broke for third on a two-out wild pitch and scored on the same play due to a HBU fielding error.
Rice added another run in the sixth on consecutive singles by Stainback, Connor Teykl and Chandler to go up 3-0. HBU, the champions of the Southland Conference, continued to fight and rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning. Greg Espinosa hit a two-out double and an RBI single by Brandon Morones made it 3-1.
The Owls went to the bullpen and senior stopper Matt Ditman came up big. The right-hander ended that threat and fired three more scoreless frames for the 3-1 final. Ditman notched his team-leading 11th save as the Owls improved to 36-21 overall. HBU saw its season end at 28-27.