June 8, 2008
Adam Zornes drilled a two-out, two-run homer in the top of the eighth to give the Rice Owls a 6-5 win over Texas A&M and earn their third consecutive berth in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
The Owls will play the winner of the Arizona State-Fresno State Super Regional next weekend at Rosenblatt Stadium. Final determination of the game schedule will be announced by the NCAA on Monday evening.
The Owls never led in the game until Zornes drilled the first pitch he saw from Aggie reliever Travis Starling (8-2) over the wall in left center. The homer made a winner of reliever Bryan Price (4-4), who bounced back from a rough outing on Saturday.
After not retiring batter last night, Price worked 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to calm an Aggie offense that scored five runs in the first four innings. Bobby Bell came on to toss two hitless innings of relief to pick up his third save. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, he walked Luke Anders, but came back to get Brian Ruggiano to ground into a double play to end the game.
Aggie starter Barret Loux opened the game with a walk to Jared Gayhart and a single to J.P. Padron, but he settled himself and worked out of the jam by getting Aaron Luna to ground into a double play.
Owls starter Mike Ojala, who worked out of a jam in the second, was touched for a pair of runs in the third. Kevin Gonzalez opened the frame with a bad hop single off Diego Seastrunk's glove at third. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. After a walk to Brodie Greene, he scored on a double by Kyle Colligan over Luna's head in left. One out later, Green scored on a groundout by Jose Duran. Luke Anders walked and stole second, but Ojala fanned Ruggiano to end the inning with the Aggies up 2-0.
Loux set the Owls down in order in the second and third before an error by Anders set the stage for Rice to tie the game. With one out in the fourth, Diego Seastrunk sent a sharp ground ball to first that skipped under Anders glove. After Luna was hit by a pitch, Rick Hague worked the count to 3-2 before drilling a double down the left field line to score both runners and tie the game.
Hague was 3x4 for the game and drove in four of the Owls six runs.
The Aggies wasted little time in retaking the lead and chasing Ojala with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Brodie Green's RBI single with one out brought home Darby Brown, who opened the inning with a single to end Ojala's night. Rice reliever Matt Langwell then walked Colligan to load the bases and Carter followed with a double to drive home two more runs. After striking out Duran, Lagwell was lifted for Matt Evers who walked Luke Anders and ran the count to 2-2 to Ruggiano before Colligan tagged out at the plate by Zornes attempting to steal home.
Ojala gave up six hits and five earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, while walking three and fanning four.
Hague closed the gap in the top of the sixth when his chopper to short hopped over Aggie shortstop Duran to drive in Seastrunk and Luna. Any hopes for more runs ended when Hague was doubled up off first after Luna snagged a liner by Chad Mozingo.
Zornes chased Loux from the game with a single to center to lead off the seventh. Reliever Kyle Thebeau then walked Jimmy Comerota and gave way to reliver Travis Starling. Jordan Dodson then bunted the runners into scoring position. Jared Gayhart was intentionally walked to load the bases for Padron, who struck out. Seastrunk then lined a grounder over the bag at first which Anders fielded and flipped to Starling just ahead of Seastrunk to end the threat.
Loux finished the night allowing six hits and four runs (two earned).
Starling opened the eighth walking Luna, but he was thrown out trying to steal. Hague then hit a dribbler to third to reach for the third time on the night. After Mozingo flew out to right, Zornes drilled Starlling's first pitch just over the wall in left center for his 12th homer of the year and the first by either team in the Super Regional