BATON ROUGE, La. -- Down but not out, the Rice baseball team was defeated by No. 5 ranked LSU 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament winner's bracket game late Sunday night on the road in Baton Rouge, La.
The Owls are now 36-23 on the season, but with a chance to play more baseball. The Blue & Gray next meet recent first round foe Southeastern Louisiana in a 2 pm elimination game on Monday (June 6).
Facing the No. 5 ranked Tigers on the road is a tough-enough task, and the Owls did not help themselves issuing three walks in the bottom of the first inning. LSU made free passes costly by exploding for four runs. The Owls were quickly in a one-out, bases-loaded situation when the Tigers' Greg Deichmann lined a pitch into fair territory down the right field line. The ball rolled into foul territory, then past the warmup mound and underneath a large wooded bullpen bench in an unmarked area in use by game day staff enjoying the early Tiger rally.
As the 10,282 fans at Alex Box Stadium went wild watching four runs come home, the play was initially ruled a ground-rule double. That initial call was, however, overturned and the Owls were down 4-0.
While Rice starting pitcher Jon Duplantier resolutely settled down and proceeded to post four shutout innings that kept the Owls from going to bullpen until at least the sixth. Rice continued to fight. In the top of the fifth senior Grayson Lewis connected on a 1-0 pitch for a towering home run to left field. His fourth longball of the season made it 4-1, but the Blue & Gray wasn't finished.
In the top of the sixth, with rain beginning to increase, Charlie Warren led off with a base hit into right. True freshman Ford Proctor blasted a one-out double to the gap in left-center to drive-home Warren that made it a two-run game, 4-2. With Rice turning up the momentum the contest was halted for 57 minutes.
It was all the scoring for either team. Rice stranded runners in scoring position in the seventh and ninth, including two on base in the final frame.
LSU is now 44-18 overall. The Tigers face the winner of Monday's Rice-Southeastern Louisiana game at 7 pm.