Rice vs. Texas Photo Gallery
2008 NCAA Houston Regional All-Tournament Team
June 1, 2008
The Rice Owls rode the calming relief pitching of Bobby Bell and the timely hitting of Jimmy Comerota to take a 7-4 victory over Texas and capture the Houston (Rice) Regional in front of 4,895 at Reckling Park on Sunday night.
Rice (45-13) will move on to the Super Regional round for the fourth consecutive year. The Owls, who brought the No. 6 national seed into regional play, will likely host the winner of College Station Regional next weekend. The NCAA will announce the Super Regional hosts on Monday.
With the score tied 4-4 in the sixth, Bell entered the game with two runners on and held the Longhorns scoreless over the final 3 2/3 innings to pick up his first win of the year. He also earned a save in Friday's opening win against Sam Houston State.
Comerota put the Owls back on top the next half inning, lining a one-out single to center to score Rick Hague who was hit by a pitch from Cole Green to lead off the sixth. Diego Seastrunk then singled to right center, scoring Adam Zornes, ending Green's night. Chad Mozingo singled off reliever Slayton Thomas to load the bases again, and Texas brought in first baseman Brandon Belt to pitch. Rice countered with pinch hitter John Hale who hit a chopper to Tant Shepherd, whose only play was to first, scoring Comerota to cap a three-run Rice rally and give them a 7-4 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh.
After the teams traded zeros in the first, Comerota led off with a double down the line in right and advanced to third on a fly out. Mozingo then hit a looping fly ball into short left that glanced off third baseman Preston Clark's glove, allowing Comerota to score the first run. One out later, Jared Gayhart lined a single up the middle to score Mozingo.
Clark, who appeared to injure himself when he made the twisting attempt on Mozingo's ball, re-injured himself while throwing out J. P. Padron to end the inning and was lifted for Pat McCrory in the bottom of the inning.
Rice knocked Texas starter Riley Boening out in the third. After striking out Rick Hague to open the inning, Aaron Luna walked and stole second. He advanced to third on a single by Zornes, prompting Texas to call on reliever Brandon Workman. Comerota greeted him with a perfect bunt that hugged the first base line, scoring Luna with the third run of the night.
Russell erased that deficit with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the inning. After a walk to Kyle Lusson and a single by Michael Torres, Rice starter Mike Ojala struck out Jordan Danks. Russell then drilled a 1-0 pitch down the left field line for his 19th homer of the year and his fourth of the regional. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Regional.
Ojala rebounded with a scoreless fourth inning before he was replaced by lefthander Matt Evers to start the fifth. He gave up three runs on three hits and fanned six.
Evers survived a tumultuous first inning. Torres opened with a single to center and Danks walked. The final pitch to Danks drew protests from the Rice bench and assistant coach Patrick Hallmark was ejected. Evers then fanned Russell and Brandon Belt, but a walk to pinch hitter Tant Shepherd loaded the bases for David Herndez, who then was retired on a fielder's choice to end the frame.
Rice retook the lead in the top of the sixth. With one out, Mozingo walked and stole second. Wayne Graham then called on Jess Buenger to pinch hit for Derek Myers after the count ran to 2-1. Augie Garrido countered by bringing in Keith Shinabery. Mozingo immediately stole third and the Longhorns elected to intentionally walk Buenger, who was then replaced by pinch runner Jordan Dodson.
Jared Gayhart drove home Mozingo with a single to right, chasing Shinabery who was relieved by Cole Green. Gayhart was then caught off first and in the rundown after a pickoff and Dodson attempted to score from third but was thrown out. Green then retired J. P. Padron to end inning.
The Owls defense betrayed Evers in the bottom of the sixth, as they committed a pair of errors on the same play to allow the Longhorns to tie the game 4-4. With one out, Kyle Lusson skipped a ground ball past Padron at first for the first error. Mozingo then fielded the ball and tried to throw out Travis Tucker, who had walked, at third, but the throw sailed to the fence, allowing Tucker to score. After a walk to Torres, Wayne Graham called on Bobby Bell to relieve Evers and quell the threat, setting the stage for the Owls winning rally.