Owls Head Way Downtown To Compete In Houston College Classic

Feb. 8, 2007

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Notes & Stats (pdf)
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Owls Head Way Downtown To Compete In Houston College Classic
The No. 1-ranked Rice baseball team (1-1) meets three national powers this weekend at the annual Houston College Classic Tournament, Feb. 9-11. The tournament is downtown at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros... The Owls face fifth-ranked Vanderbilt (0-0) at noon on Friday, No. 20 Baylor (0-0) at 7 pm on Saturday and undefeated Texas A&M (1-0) at 6 pm Sunday. Tickets to the event are available at the Rice Ticket Office or may be purchased on-line at RiceOwls.com. The full tournament schedule is as follows.

2007 Minute Maid College Classic Schedule
Fri., Feb. 9

Vanderbilt vs. Rice, Noon
Texas A&M vs. Arizona State, 3:30 pm
Baylor vs. Houston, 7 pm

Sat., Feb. 10
Astros Fanfest, 10 am - 6 pm
Vanderbilt vs. Arizona State, Noon
Texas A&M vs. Houston, 3:30 pm
Baylor vs. Rice, 7 pm

Sun., Feb. 11
Astros Fanfest, 9 am - 5 pm
Arizona State vs. Houston, 11 am
Baylor vs. Vanderbilt, 2:30 pm
Texas A&M vs. Rice, 6 pm

Broadcast Information
Every Rice baseball game is broadcast around the world on the Internet at www.KTRU.org. A direct link to the audio feed is provided above and on the baseball schedule page. Veteran broadcasters Matt McCabe, Dan Perez are mike-side for the Owls' baseball action this season.

Selected Home Games On OwlVision
A total of 21 selected home games at Reckling Park are slated for a live broadcast on OwlVision. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like broadcast on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). The service has proved to be very popular with fans and alumni living throughout the world. Information about the service and subscription prices are available here.

National Ranking Update • Rice No. 1 In A Landslide!
Rice was rated as the No. 1 team in the country in the preseason in five different polls, including USA Today/ESPN, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association (NCBWA), Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America and Rivals.com. The Owls have held that spot after the season-opening win over Central Missouri. The top spot is the Owls' highest preseason ranking since the 2004 team was coming off the national championship season of 2003. There are seven starters returning to the regular lineup as well 11 experienced pitchers back in 2007. The newcomers making their Rice debut in 2007 were tabbed as among the best recruiting classes in the country by a host of baseball publications.

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Three-time national coach of the year and Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 16th season at Rice. He is 685-271 with the Owls (422-93 at home, 204-142 in road games and 59-36 at neutral sites). His overall winning percentage is .717, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .717 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Friday's game is Graham's first meeting against Vanderbilt. Graham's record against Baylor is 25-17 (15-7 home, 7-9 road, 3-1 neutral) and Texas A&M is 23-14 (13-3 home, 5-10 road, 5-1 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another automatic postseason bid in 2006, making 12-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship. Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in '96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He added the C-USA tournament championship in 2006 and advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06... Graham was named the WAC coach of the year in 1998, '99, '02 and the co-coach of the year in '03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in 2006, his first year in the league... Rice has made five appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, '99, `02, `03, `06)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the '01 campaign, two weeks in '02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004 and 12 weeks in 2006... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC coach of the year in '95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's coach of the decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA coach of the century... One of the few current collegiate coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Mike Taylor (Prairie View A&M, 1997; seventh year), David Pierce (Houston, 1988; fifth year), Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995; second year)... Graham will coach at third base. Taylor will be at first base.

1,260 Career Wins For Graham
Wayne Graham owns 685 career wins at Rice, but he also has 1,260 victories when including his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's career record is 1,260-384 in a 26-year career that began in 1981.

Previous Game • Texas State Rallies Past Rice In San Marcos, 3-2
Texas State rallied from a two-run deficit to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth inning and then again with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to claim a 3-2 victory over visiting Rice Tuesday evening (Feb. 6) before a facility record crowd of 1,812 at Bobcat Field in San Marcos... After the No. 1 ranked Owls left two men on base in the top of the eighth inning and another on base in the ninth, Texas State began a two-out rally in the ninth with a Jarrod Bunn single to right field. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a single to right-center that sent the runner to third and Laurn Randall delivered the game-winning hit with the single through the left side... Rice junior right-hander Bobby Bell suffered his first career loss in 13 decisions working the ninth inning. The Blue & Gray had solid pitching on the night as four Owls combined to hold Texas State to just three hits through the first eight frames... Rice jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the top of the second inning. Rightfielder Chad Lembeck reached base on a fielder's choice and advanced to third on the first career hit for freshman third baseman Diego Seastrunk. Junior Tyler Henley punched a ball through the left side to give the Owls a 1-0 advantage... In the second Joe Savery drew a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. He scored on a double down the left field line by Jordan Dodson that stretched the margin to 2-0... Texas State tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. Randell reached on a Rice fielding error and advanced to third on a base hit into right by Casey Guest. Ben Theriot executed a sacrifice bunt to score one run. Thomas Field singled to right to bring Guest home and tie it up, 2-2... The Owls got close with a fielder's choice and a walk in the top of the eighth. Henley singled up the middle and moved into scoring position in the ninth. Rice fell to 1-1 on the season while Texas State improved to 3-1.

Owls Win Season Opener • Rice Shuts Out Central Missouri on Feb. 3, 5-0
Five Rice pitchers combined to hold Central Missouri to no runs on three hits, and sophomore catcher Adam Zornes gave the No. 1 ranked Owls all the offense the team would need with a two-run first inning homer on the way to a 5-0 victory on the opening day of the season for both teams Feb. 3 at Reckling Park... Zornes quickly gave Rice the lead with a two-run homer to left in the bottom of the first inning. The standout from nearby Saint Thomas High School also laced a double down the left field line in the fifth inning to finish the season-opener a pair of hits, two RBI and a run scored... That was all the offense the Blue & Gray would need as pitchers Ryan Berry, Chris Kelley, Kyle Gunderson, Bobby Bramhall and junior starter Joe Savery held the Mules to just three singles with three walks while combining for 10 strikeouts. Starting on the mound on opening day for the third time in three years, Savery was sharp in a predetermined two innings of work. He surrendered a leadoff base hit, but started a successful 1-6-3 double play on the next batter and retired the next four in a row before giving way to Berry. The freshman from Humble fired three scoreless frames with two strikeouts in his NCAA debut. Kelley, a junior transfer from San Jacinto College, fanned three in 2.0 innings in his first appearance. Gunderson and Bramhall both recorded two strikeouts in their respective innings in the eighth and ninth.

All-America Owls
A number of Owls have been piling up individual honors in the preseason. The Rice junior foursome of Cole St.Clair, Joe Savery, Brian Friday and Tyler Henley have appeared on the major preseason all-America listings.
• St.Clair, a left-handed relief pitcher, was named a first team preseason all-America by Collegiate Baseball, Rivals.com and the NCBWA. He is a third team preseason all-America by Baseball America. In 2006 St.Clair was among the NCAA leaders and nearly tied the Rice single season school record with 11 saves. He went 7-2 on the mound and maintained a 1.82 ERA in 74.1 innings of work, holding 258 batters faced to a composite .151 batting average. After the college season he was selected to represent his country and pitch for the United States national team over the summer. He went 4-0 with three saves and he compiled an 0.69 ERA in 26 innings for Team USA against various international opponents who are often professional players back in their native countries.
• Savery, a left-handed pitcher and first baseman, was tabbed as a first team preseason all-America selection by Baseball America and second team honoree by Collegiate Baseball, Rivals.com and the NCBWA. The versatile Savery posted another sensational season on both sides of the ball in 2006. The standout from nearby Lamar High School was the most valuable player of the C-USA Tournament and an all-regional selection who batted .335 with nine home runs and 66 RBI in 69 games. In 11 starts on the mound Savery posted a 5-1 record and a 2.76 ERA in 62 innings. He held a total of 229 batters faced to a composite .240 batting average.
• Friday was named a second team preseason all-America at shortstop by Rivals.com and third team honoree by Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA. The Houston native from Bellaire Episcopal High School led the Blue & Gray and finished among the C-USA's best in batting average (.353), hits (95), doubles (22), runs scored (66), total bases (150), on-base percentage (.437) and stolen bases (17). He is one of three Owls to start all 70 games and his defense up the middle was just as steady as the 20-game hitting streak he had during the year.
• Henley led Conference USA in runs (74), doubles (26), triples (7) and total bases (156) and he finished among the C-USA leaders in hits (92), RBI (54), at bats (274), hit-by-pitch (20). He batted .385 in 10 games played in the NCAA Tournament, going 15-for-39 with six doubles and a home run for a postseason slugging percentage of .615.

The C-USA Favorites
With the junior tandem of pitcher/first baseman Joe Savery and pitcher Cole St.Clair selected as the 2007 preseason Conference USA player and pitcher of the year (respectively) the Rice baseball team has been picked as the unanimous C-USA favorite in the annual preseason coaches' poll... The Owls garnered all nine first place votes from the league's nine head coaches. The Blue & Gray placed a league-high five members on the preseason all-conference team. In addition to Savery and St. Clair, shortstop Brian Friday and outfielders Tyler Henley and Aaron Luna earned All-C-USA recognition. The top five predicted order of finish in the conference was...
Rice (9)
Southern Miss
East Carolina
(first place votes in parentheses)

Player of the Year
Joe Savery, Rice (Jr., p/1b)

Pitcher of the Year
Cole St.Clair, Rice (Jr., p)

Preseason All-Conference USA Team
P: Ricky Hargrove, Jr., Houston
P: Sean Morgan, Jr., Tulane
P: Joe Savery, Jr., Rice
P: Cole St.Clair, Jr., Rice
RP: Daniel Latham, Sr., Tulane
C: Luis Flores, So., Houston
IF: Adam Amar, Sr., Memphis
IF: Brad Emaus, Jr., Tulane
IF: Brian Friday, Jr., Rice
IF: Trey Sutton, Jr., Southern Miss
OF: K.K. Chalmers, Jr., Memphis
OF: Tyler Henley, Jr., Rice
OF: Aaron Luna, So., Rice
OF: Warren McFadden, So., Tulane
DH/UT: Brendan Murphy, Sr., Marshall

St.Clair Named Houston Area Preseason College Player of the Year
On. Jan. 26 junior pitcher Cole St.Clair was presented with the plaque as the 2007 Houston Area Preseason College Player of the Year by the Houston Athletic Committee (HAC) and local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America at the organization's annual awards dinner downtown at the Hilton Americas grand ballroom... St.Clair was honored alongside Houston Astros' stars like Craig Biggio and Luke Scott, as well as the area's high school baseball head coach of the year and the members of the 2007 preseason all-Greater Houston high school all-star team... Joe Savery earned the same honor in 2006.

Mid-Semester Addition
League City, Tex., native (Juan) J.P. Padron enrolled in school for the spring semester and joined the Owls for the upcoming season... Padron started at third base on opening day and went 1-for-1 with a walk. He came off the bench Feb. 3 at Texas State... Padron played in the infield last season at San Jacinto College and helped lead the Gators to a third place finish at the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. He batted .303 with four home runs, 11 doubles and 20 RBI in 56 games. He was an 11th round major league draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004 after a stellar prep career at Clear Creek High School. The League City star played one season at LSU in 2005 before transferring to San Jacinto... "J.P. has the right physical qualities to be an impact player," Rice head coach Wayne Graham said. "We hope he can realize his full potential. He's very strong and we're glad he's here."

Legends Of The Fall
Wayne Graham liked what he saw of the Owls' practices from the fall of 2006. "(Junior catcher) Danny Lehmann had great fall," Graham said. "He hit over .450 and distinguished himself. (Sophomore infielder) Aaron Luna had five home runs in 15 intrasquad games. (Junior outfielders) Jordan Dodson and Tyler Henley both swung a good bat and that was good to see. The freshman pitchers had an outstanding fall. Two right-handers, Ryan Berry, Jared Gayhart, did really well. I think we hit better in this training period than we have in a long time. The defense was good, and that made for good baseball."

Henley Streaking In Centerfield
Junior centerfielder Tyler Henley has been a fixture in the starting lineup the past two years for one of the top collegiate teams in the country. With two starts this season, Henley has now made 132-consecutive starts and 121 of those have been as the Owls' leadoff hitter (91.7 percent). When leading off an inning over the last two years, the standout from Colleyville, Tex., has reached base an eye-opening 45.2 percent of the time. That is not a good way for the opposing defense to start an inning. Henley has scored 144 runs during his 132-game starting streak.

Cooled By A Draft
Five Rice players were selected in the first 11 rounds of the 2006 Major League Baseball amateur draft, and seven Owls were drafted overall. The top five signed and joined the professional ranks but two, senior Ryne Tacker and junior Tyler Henley, returned for the 2007 season. Tacker was selected in the 49th round by the Seattle Mariners even though he did not pitch last year. Henley was selected in the 50th round by the Houston Astros even though he was just a sophomore. Josh Rodriguez (57th pick overall, Cleveland Indians), Bryce Cox (third round, Boston) Eddie Degerman (fourth, St. Louis), Greg Buchanan (ninth, Houston) and Craig Crow (11th, Texas) were the five draftees who signed.

Nation's Second-Best RPI
The Rice baseball team tied for third at the 2006 College World Series, but the team's NCAA Rating Power Index (RPI) was even better. The RPI is a value calculated from a host of factors over an entire season including the team's Division I record, combined record of opponents, home & away wins and losses and more. Rice's RPI matched its number two seed for the NCAA Tournament. The Blue and Gray had the best RPI of any team in the state of Texas and only College World Series participant Clemson finished higher in the final national ratings. Like Rice's dominating 22-2 record in C-USA regular season games, the Owls clearly recorded the best RPI among league schools The conference's 2006 NCAA Tournament participants (Houston, Tulane and Southern Miss) logged Top 40 RPIs. Rice helped make C-USA one of the best baseball leagues in the nation. C-USA was fifth overall among the NCAA's 30 Division I baseball conferences.





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