HOUSTON -- It was a day for the Rice seniors as Jordan Dodson drove in four runs on a season-high three hits and reliever Cole St.Clair came on in the fifth to quiet the Texas A&M offense as the Owls claimed a 9-7 win in Game One of the Houston (Rice) Super Regional at Reckling Park on Saturday.
Dodson, did not have an at bat in the Regional, tied his career-high with three hits and broke a 6-6 deadlock with a two-run double in the bottom of the fifth. St.Clair (10-2) worked the final 4 1/3 innings to pick up the win and send most of the record crowd of 5,368 home happy.
With the win, the Owls moved to within one win away from their third-consecutive trip to the College World Series in Omaha. The teams will meet in Game Two of the Super Regional on Sunday at 6:07 pm.
The Aggies came out swinging in the first. Kyle Colligan doubled into the left field corner and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Dane Carter then drove him in with a sac fly to center. A&M added to the lead in the second. Brian Ruggiano walked to open the inning and went to second a ground out. Blake Stouffer drove him in with a single to center to make the score 2-0.
Rice struck back in the bottom of the second to tie the game. Aaron Luna led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second on a ground. He moved to third on fly out and scored when Diego Seastrunk beat out a ground ball up the middle for a single. Chad Mozingo followed with a single and Dodson drove in Seastrunk with a single in gap in left center.
The Owls took the lead with two more runs in the third. J.P. Padron was hit by a pitch and Rick Hague walked to open the inning. Luna bunted the runners up 90 feet and Zornes broke the tie with a single to left to score Padron. Comerota followed with a perfect squeeze bunt, plating Hague for a 4-2 Rice lead.
The Aggies cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Kevin Gonzalez, but the Owls came right back with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning on Dodson's second run-scoring single. Padron then doubled down the left field line to drive in Dodson that made it a 6-3 contest.
A&M rallied to tie the game, 6-6, in the fifth. The big blows were doubles by Luke Anders that scored two and Darby Brown that added another. Rice answered back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, two of them coming on Dodson's two-out double to left. Rice added another when Jared Gayhart's reached on an error and Dodson scored from second.
St. Clair entered the game and retired the first seven he faced, but had to dodge a bullet in the top of the 8th. He hit Ruggiano to open the frame and Brown followed with a single to bring the tying run to the plate. After a fly out, the Owls' senior left-hander induced a double play ground ball to end the inning.
The Aggies mounted one final threat in the ninth. Green doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly. St.Closed out the threat to notch his tenth win. Rice improved to 46-13 on the season and Texas A&M dropped to 46-18. Sunday's second game of the Super Regional is set for a national television broadcast on ESPN2.