June 4, 2006
HOUSTON -- In taking full center stage in front of more than 4,000 fans at home at Reckling Park and a national television audience on CSTV, Rice senior pitcher Eddie Degerman fired a season-high 14 strikeouts and scattered just five singles and two walks on the way to his 12th win of the season as the number one ranked Rice baseball team cruised into Monday's championship action of the NCAA Regional with a 7-2 win over longtime rival Baylor on Sunday afternoon.
With the victory in the winner's bracket game, the Owls advance to meet the winner of Sunday's late elimination game between Arizona State and Baylor. Rice needs to win only one game on Monday to advance to NCAA Super Regional action next week. Game time Monday between Rice and the elimination-winner is slated for 4 pm. If another game is needed Monday in the NCAA's double-elimination format, it is scheduled for 8 pm.
Playing as the visitor, Rice gave Degerman early support by jumping on the scoreboard for three runs in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Tyler Henley led off with a double down the right field line and he scored on a base hit to right center by Greg Buchanan. for a quick 1-0 advantage. Buchanan advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brian Friday an he scored on a double to left by Josh Rodriguez. Joe Savery punched a ball through the right side and Rodriguez dashed home to stretch the Rice lead to 3-0.
In the second Jordan Dodson led off with a base hit into center field and freshman Kenny Ford moved him to scoring position with a sacrifice. Henley connected for his second hit of the day to right field to score Dodson and the Owls were on the board with a 4-0 lead.
Baylor scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth. Seth Fortenberry and Zach Dillson drew the only walks Degerman allowed on the day with back-to-back one-out free passes. The runners advanced on a ground out to the right side by Beamer Weems and it looked like another ground ball would get Rice out of the inning. A Rice fielding error, however, allowed both men to score a pair of unearned runs without any hits and the Bears cut the lead to 4-2.
The Owls got the runs back plus an extra one in the seventh. Henley drew a one-out walk and Buchanan hit into a fielder's choice, but the Bears' throw to get Henley at second was off the mark and the Blue and Gray now had two men on base with no one away. Friday made the most of his opportunity with an RBI single that scored Henley and sent Buchanan to third. Rodriguez was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. A Savery sacrifice fly brought home Buchanan to make it 6-2. A hit batter and walk plated the last run in a 7-2 final.
Rice improved to 52-10 on the season. The team won its 12th-straight game. Baylor fell to 36-25. The regional concludes Monday at Reckling Park.