June 17, 2006
OMAHA -- Just when it looked like the top-ranked Rice baseball team had let a talented Georgia squad off the hook and take a late lead, the Owls stormed back with a rally of their own and then hung on for a 6-4 win in the opening College World Series game for both teams before a Rosenblatt Stadium crowd of 19,885 and national television audience on ESPN Saturday afternoon in Omaha.
With the team's 38th win in its last 41 games, Rice advances to the winner's bracket for its second game at the 60th annual NCAA College World Series. The Owls next play the winner of Saturday's late game between Oregon State and Miami (Fla.) at 6 pm on Monday (June 19).
Both starting pitchers had matching no-hit/shutout efforts for the first three innings Saturday, but the Owls opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore Joe Savery got the very first hit of the game by leading off with a single to center field. He took second on a wild pitch and scored on bloop two-out single in to center by sophomore Jordan Dodson for a 1-0 lead.
Rice led off the sixth with back-to-back singles by Josh Rodriguez and Savery. Aaron Luna was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Danny Lehmann lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score Rodriguez for a 2-0 advantage.
Owl senior right-hander Eddie Degerman kept the sixth-ranked Bulldogs out of the hit column for six innings, but he was lifted with one out in the seventh after his seventh and eighth walks of the day and an RBI single by Georgia third baseman Ryan Peisel. Four more consecutive singles, as well as a Rice throwing error, followed Peisel's hit and the Bulldogs were suddenly in front 4-2 with just two-and-a-half more innings left to play.
Rice didn't stay down for long. The Owls batted around and bounced right back with four runs of their own to go back in front 6-4. Senior Greg Buchanan slugged an infield single and Brian Friday followed with an RBI double down the left field line. Rodriguez singled to center and he alertly took second on the throw back to the infield. With runners on second and third, Savery singled up the middle to give the Blue and Gray the lead, 5-4. After a hit batsman moved Savery into scoring position, Dodson drove him in with a single to center to make the score 6-4.
With a new-found lead heading into the eighth, senior reliever Bryce Cox handcuffed the Bulldogs for the final two frames. He worked a total of 2.2 innings and retired each of the last six Georgia hitters he faced. Cox earned the win to improve his record to 5-1. Degerman finished the day having allowed only one hit and a career-high eight walks with nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings. He set a new school record for strikeouts in a single season with 167, breaking the previous mark of 163 set by Rice great Wade Townsend in the national championship year of 2003.
Savery finished with three hits, two RBI and a pair of runs scored. Rodriguez, Friday and Dodson all had two hits on the afternoon as the Owls improved to 56-11 on the season.