BATON ROUGE, La. -- Better late than never, the Rice baseball team was finally able to complete its long-delayed opening game in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Sunday afternoon with a 7-2 victory over Southeastern Louisiana.
With the win Rice advances to face national seed, regional host, and well-rested LSU on the Tigers' home field of Alex Box Stadium on Sunday evening -- weather permitting! As the Owls were departing the facility after the Sunday afternoon victory (and with another elimination game still to be played before Rice meets LSU in the late game), rain was again beginning to fall in the area.
Weather conditions first pushed Rice's opening game from Friday night to Saturday. The first six innings of the contest were completed Saturday with Rice leading 4-1, but rain and lightning then delayed all the weekend action to Sunday. The final three frames were restarted almost another 24 hours later, where Rice registered a 7-2 decision to advance to the winner's bracket.
Playing as the home team at the neutral site Rice started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. Dayne Wunderlich drew a one-out walk and moved to scoring position with a stolen base. He advanced to third on a base hit by Grayson Lewis, but a Lion fielding error on the play gave him an extra 90 feet for a 1-0 lead.
Southeastern Louisiana came right back with a run in the top of the third. Brennan Breaud hit a one-out single and alertly took second base on a wild pitch. He went to third on a ground out and scored easily Ryan Byers' double to right-center to make it 1-1.
The Owls moved back in front, 4-1, with a three-run fifth. Four hits and a Lion fielding error broke the deadlock. After an RBI by freshman Ford Proctor plated one, the final hit of the inning (and the third-straight in the two-out rally) was a big double to the gap in left-center by senior Connor Teykl that stretched the margin to three runs.
The Lions were ready to re-start what seemed more like a short three-inning rematch. SLU posted a run in the top of the seventh to make it 4-2 off new pitcher Dane Myers, who started Sunday in relief of original hurler Blake Fox.
That was all Myers and Owls would allow, however, and quickly proceeded to post three big insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to re-extend the lead to 7-2. Myers earned his seventh save of the season with all 3.0 innings of work, scattering four hits while striking out two. Fox won his fifth game of the year, and the 31st of his collegiate career, by allowing just a single run on three hits and four walks while striking out four.
On the offensive side, the Rice duo of Ford Proctor and Connor Teykl both finished the game with three hits each while driving in a run in an 11-hit attack. The Owls are now 36-22 on the season with more games to play. Southeastern Louisiana dropped to 39-20 is overall.