Owls Host HBU Tuesday To Close Out Homestand

Kirby Taylor
Will Rice College
Feb. 16, 2015

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Feb. 17 (Tues.) 4:30 pm; HBU at Rice
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Owls Host HBU Tuesday To Close Out Homestand
The Rice baseball team, 2-2 and ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation, hosts hometown foe Houston Baptist on Tuesday (Feb. 17) to close out the season-opening homestand. The Owls face the undefeated Huskies (3-0) in a 4:30 pm game at Reckling Park... Rice is then on the road for a three-game weekend series at Arizona (Feb. 20-22). Each of the Arizona games is scheduled for a live broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

Game Day Parking
Rice University is in the early stages of building the new Moody Center for the Arts adjacent to Reckling Park. Like any major construction project, a host of changes to the old routine are now under way. There is a charge for game day parking, with the lone exception being FREE parking in the Greenbriar Lot on the west side of Rice Stadium (football). Fans may purchase season or individual-game parking passes by calling the ticket office at 713-348-6957. Limited complimentary parking and other game day benefits are also available by supporting Rice student-athletes with a gift to the Owl Club.

Watch The Games On OwlVision All Access
Home games are slated for a live on-line video broadcast by OwlVision All Access. 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). Information about the service and subscription prices are available at RiceOwls.com.

Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending home games can listen to the Rice broadcast at Reckling Park via an FM proximity transmitter. J.P. Heath is back for his seventh season as the regular voice of the Owls.

Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceOwlsBSB while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceOwlsdotcom.

Live Stats On GameTracker
Links to live play-by-play text and statistics from every game are posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, the baseball schedule page.

98th Season On The Baseball Diamond
Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2015 season is, however, only the Owls' 99th season playing on the diamond. The school cancelled its baseball season in 1919 and did not field a team for three years (1933-35) during the Great Depression. Rice returned to the diamond in the spring of 1936 and has been playing ever since. The Rice baseball program's all-time record is 1,948 - 1,530 - 9.

National Rankings Update • Owls Move Into Top 12
Rice is nationally-ranked in a host of different college baseball polls. The Owls are now No. 12 in the nation according to the D1Baseball.com. Here's a closer look at some of the latest national rankings, and changes from the preseason (as available at press time):
Poll                          Current     Preseason
D1Baseball.com                   12           13
Collegiate Baseball Magazine     13           22
CollegeBaseballDaily.com         13           --
NCBWA                            14           15
Baseball America                 15           15
PerfectGame.com                  20           21
College Sports Madness         (tba)          16
USA Today/ESPN                 (tba)          17

High RPI: No. 14 In 2014
If you have disdain for the politics of the various baseball polls and prefer the cold, hard math of the NCAA's Rating Power Index (RPI), you'll have to wait a little longer. The NCAA is not scheduled to release the updated RPI for a few weeks yet. A year ago the Owls had the No. 14 RPI in the nation.

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 24th season at Rice. The 2015 campaign marks his 35th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,041-422 with the Owls (621-156 at home, 323-205 on the road and 97-61 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .712, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .712 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 115 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this week's opponents is: 6-0 vs. HBU; 2-2 vs Arizona... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2014, making 20-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14. 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 won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11, `13   and `14... 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 `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `11... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... 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, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... 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... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... 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 Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; tenth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; fourth year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; third year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.

1,615 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,041 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,615 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,615-534 in a 33-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Previous Outing: Texas Slips Past Rice In 10 Innings
HOUSTON - The Rice hitters posted a fourth-straight game with double-digit hits, and six Owl pitchers combined for an eye-opening 17 strikeouts, but Texas pushed across the go-ahead run in the top of the ten inning and then held off a final rally attempt in the bottom of the frame to claim a 4-3 win over Rice Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park... The two nationally-ranked teams split the four-game weekend two games each. Only one total run separated the rivals for 37 total innings of baseball, where the Owls held a final advantage of 19-18... After four scoreless frames Sunday the Owls broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Charlie Warren and Kirby Taylor started the inning off with singles and both advanced on Hunter Kopycinski's sacrifice bunt. The Longhorns elected to intentionally walk red-hot freshman Ryan Chandler to load the bases, and Ford Stainback followed with an RBI single to right-center field. Leon Byrd then singled to left to score Taylor and Chandler to stretch the margin to 3-0... Texas tied the game with two away in the top of the seventh. With men on first and second Ben Johnson laced an RBI single to score one, but a Rice fielding error in the outfield allowed a second run to score with Johnson able to advance all the way to third on the play. CJ Hinojosa drove Johnson home with a base hit to make it 3-3... Rice had its leadoff batter single to leadoff both the eighth and ninth innings, but could not regain the lead. In the top of the tenth, Tres Barrera drew a two-out walk and scored after a walk and RBI double by Michael McCann... In the bottom of the tenth Rice made one final effort for some late heroics. The Owls had runners on first and second for Texas closed out a 4-3 final... "We did not get the result we wanted but overall we played well again today, particularly (starting pitcher) Austin (Orewiler)," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "We played well all weekend, really. Texas is a very good team, but I think we are too."... Junior right-hander Austin Orewiler made the most of his first collegiate start. The Galveston native worked a career-long 6.2 innings, allowing just five hits and two walks while striking out a career best ten. Six Owl pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts on the day, the most by the staff since recording 23 in win at Hawaii in 2013. One of the Rice pitchers Sunday was right-hander Jordan Stephens, marking his return to duty after being sidelined most of last season. Stephens had a strikeout in one inning that lasted 12 total pitches... The four-game opening super-series was a smash hit with fans. The combined attendance total was 17,191, almost 4,300 per game for the innovative four-game set.

Big Opening Series
Rice baseball has a long-history of testing itself with some tough, but very popular, season-opening series - like last weekend vs Texas. The average attendance of that four-game series (4,297) crushed the previous best opening weekend attendance average in Reckling Park history from two years ago. Here's how some other opening weekends have added-up. (Note that many of the previous opening weekends were in a tournament format where the Owls played against three different opponents on consecutive days.)
    Year    1st Weekend    (Average)
    2015      *17,191      (4,297)
    2013       12,237      (4,079)
    2011       12,182      (4,060)
    2009       10,950      (3,650)
    2004       10,117      (3,372)
    2012        9,615      (3,205)
    2010        9,198      (3,066)

Did You Know?
The Owls swept Saturday's doubleheader vs. No. 6 ranked Texas to become the first C-USA team to post two wins against a Top 10 team in the same day since Rice beat No. 7 Cal State Fullerton twice on March 4, 2006. That 2006 Owl team went on to reach the College World Series.

This & That
For the weekend Rice out-hit Texas .343 to .228, and also outscored the Longhorns by a combined run total of 19-18... C-USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year Blake Fox worked 6.0 inning to win his first start of the season. The junior left-hander improved his career collegiate record to a perfect 19-0... Kevin McCanna was sound and solid starting on opening day. The junior right-hander did not allow an earned run and struck out eight in 5.0 innings, but earned a no-decision. Freshman RHP Ricardo Salinas started the second game of the Saturday double-header and fired a team-long 7.1 innings. He allowed just two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four. Junior RHP Austin Orewiler did not earn a decision to show for a sterling 6.2 innings in his first career start. He led all Owl pitchers over the weekend with a career-high 10 strikeouts. Redshirt junior RHP Jordan Stephens made his return to the mound after being sidelined most of last season. Stephens recorded a strikeout in one scoreless inning in which he threw 12 pitches. Senior OF Kirby Taylor went a combined 9-for-14 (.643), belting a pair of doubles for a .786 slugging percentage, while also driving in a total of four runs. Senior 2B Ford Stainback was 8-for-19 (.421) with four RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. True freshman Ryan Chandler made a splash in his first collegiate series. The rookie centerfielder batted leadoff and hit a combined .357 (5-for-14) with five runs scored, a double and a stolen base... Not only did the Owls bat around in Saturday's first game of the double-header, the Blue & Gray hit for the cycle as a team.

Hitting Streaks Carrying Over
Because the NCAA recognizes hitting streaks carried-over from one college season to the next, senior Ford Stainback enters the week with a nine-game hitting streak. Kirby Taylor has an eight-game hitting streak.

Conference Titles Streak Now At 19-Straight
Rice has won or shared a total of 19-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and now nine C-USA titles in as many years. The Owls won the 2014 C-USA regular season title by a comfortable three-game margin, then completed the title sweep by taking the league tournament last in Hattiesburg, Miss. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 19 years:
Year    Conf.    Regular Season    Conf. Tourney
2014    C-USA    1st                   1st
2013    C-USA    tied 1st              1st
2012    C-USA    1st                  tied 5th
2011    C-USA    tied 1st              1st
2010    C-USA    1st                   2nd
2009    C-USA    2nd                   1st
2008    C-USA    1st                  tied 7th
2007    C-USA    1st                   1st
2006    C-USA    1st                   1st
2005    WAC      1st                 no tourney
2004    WAC      1st                 no tourney
2003    WAC      1st                 no tourney
2002    WAC      1st                 no tourney
2001    WAC      1st                 no tourney
2000    WAC    tied 1st              no tourney
1999    WAC      1st                   1st
1998    WAC      1st South Div.        1st
1997    WAC      1st South Div.        1st
1996    SWC      tied 6th              1st

National Postseason Streak At 20-Straight
Rice baseball's 20-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation's fourth-longest active streak. In 2014 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 42nd-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (37) and Cal State Fullerton (23). Rice's 20-straight NCAA Tournament bids is the sixth-longest postseason streak in Division I baseball history.

Solid In C-USA Regular Season
Since its first Conference USA baseball campaign in the spring of 2006, Rice's regular-season record in C-USA league games is 169-53 (.761).

20-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice has clinched 20-straight seasons of posting at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 41 wins in 19 of the last 20 years.

The 2015 Conference USA Favorites
IRVING, Texas - With three preseason all-conference players, including the Owl battery of Blake Fox and John Clay Reeves as the respective 2015 Preseason Pitcher and Player of the Year, the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll. All twelve of the C-USA head coaches voted Rice as the preseason favorite for 2015. Since joining the conference in 2006 the Owls have been the league favorite every year there has been a poll (officially nine-of-the-last-ten years as there was no coaches poll conducted in 2010). This season Owls return five offensive starters in the batting order and a host of veteran pitchers who helped lead last year's squad to a 42-20 overall record, the C-USA regular season and tournament titles, and to a home NCAA Regional at Reckling Park. Rice's veteran standouts, including Fox (Jr., LHP), Reeves (Sr., C), and fellow C-USA preseason honoree Matt Ditman (Jr., RHP), all have the full attention of the C-USA head coaches.

2015 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS (selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (12)
2. FIU
3. Old Dominion
4. Southern Miss
5. UTSA
6. Florida Atlantic
7. UAB
8. Middle Tennessee
9. WKU
10. Marshall
11. Charlotte
12. Louisiana Tech
(first place votes in parentheses)

PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
John Clay Reeves, Rice (Senior, C)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Blake Fox, Rice (Junior, Left-hander)

PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Blake Fox Jr. Rice
P  Alex Luna Sr. UAB
P  Chris Mourelle So. FIU
RP  Matt Ditman Jr. Rice
John Clay Reeves Sr. Rice
IF  Josh Anderson Sr. FIU
IF  Ryan Church Sr. WKU
IF  P.J. Higgins Jr. Old Dominion
IF  Taylor Love Jr. Louisiana Tech
IF  Stephen Kerr So. Florida Atlantic
OF  Jared Allen Sr. Middle Tennessee
OF  Brendon Sanger Jr. Florida Atlantic
OF  Nick Walker So. Old Dominion
DH/UT  Matt Durst Sr. Southern Miss)

Take A Closer Look At Last Year
Rice had 20 losses in 2014, but a closer look is in order. More than one-third of the losses (7) were to teams that were nationally-ranked when the Owls faced them. Nine of the 20 losses were by a single run - of which three were in extra innings and another was in the bottom of the ninth. The final margin in 13 of the losses was two runs (or less). Also consider that the Owls saw a number of last season's star players, including Jordan Stephens, Zech Lemond, Shane Hoelscher, Leon Byrd and John Clay Reeves, all sidelined at various points during the season.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2015 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
0-1 in all-white,
2-0 in the home alternate-1 (`birds'),
0-1 in the home alternate-2 (`R'),
0-0 in all-gray,
0-0 in blue tops with white pants,
0-0 in blue tops with gray pants,
0-0 in the road alternate (`birds-gray').

Facing An Opponent Four Times
Rice and Texas played a four-game series, but it's not so unheard-of to play one team four times in a college season. When including the game in last season's NCAA Regional, Rice and Texas met a total of four times over the course of 2014. The Owls played three C-USA regular season games against FIU, Middle Tennessee and UTSA last season, and then added a fourth against those same teams near the end of the year in the conference tournament. A year ago Rice ended up playing league foe Old Dominion five times after meeting the Monarchs twice in the conference tournament. In two weeks the Owls play their second four-game series of season vs. national power Stanford.

Nine (9) Televised Games In Regular Season
The people in the business of selecting games for television broadcasts have a good idea of the teams the public want to see. So far nine Rice regular season games are slated for a TV broadcast and that number could still grow over the course of the year, not including a possible TV appearance in the championship final of the C-USA Tournament in late May. Here is Rice's "starting nine" in the upcoming TV lineup:
Feb. 20 (Fri.) at Arizona, PAC-12 Network;
Feb. 21 (Sat.) at Arizona, PAC-12 Network
Feb. 22 (Sun.) at Arizona, PAC-12 Network
Mar. 3 (Tues.) at TCU, FOXSSW+
Mar. 27 (Fri.) vs. Southern Miss, FOX Sports 1; 
Apr. 18 (Sat.) vs. UTSA, ASN
Apr. 26 (Sun.) at Western Kentucky, ASN
May 9 (Sat.) at Florida Atlantic, ASN
May 16 (Sat.) vs. FIU, FOX Sports Net

Rice Since 1999
Using the 1999 season as the starting point (the year the NCAA expanded the postseason tournament field to 64 teams with the current Super Regional format), Rice baseball has maintained one of the nation's top win percentages over the last 16 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2014:
Team    Years    Wins    Loses    Ties    PCT
Florida State    16    791    278    1    .740
Rice    16    762    280    0    .731
North Carolina    16    729    301    1    .708
South Carolina    16    748    312    0    .706
Cal St. Fullerton    16    700    299    0    .701
Texas    16    717    314    1    .695
Arizona State    16    637    289    2    .688
LSU    16    708    321    6    .687
Coastal Carolina    16    675    310    0    .685
Miami (Fla.)    16    682    313    3    .685
Oral Roberts    16    654    307    0    .681
Georgia Tech    16    676    329    1    .672
Wichita State    16    703    357    0    .663
Virginia    16    640    331    3    .659
Stanford    16    635    340    2    .651
Clemson    16    677    363    1    .651
Nebraska    16    632    342    2    .649
East Carolina    16    619    347    3    .640
Tulane    16    623    352    2    .639
Southern    16    474    272    0    .635
Florida Atlantic    16    609    351    1    .634
C. of Charleston    16    600    346    1    .634
Oregon State    16    585    338    0    .634
Oklahoma State    16    613    355    0    .633
TCU    16    616    360    0    .631
Kent State    16    600    351    0    .631
Florida    16    633    373    2    .629
Notre Dame    16    596    353    5    .627
Mississippi    16    621    376    1    .623
Louisville    16    607    368    1    .622
Texas A&M    16    619    378    3    .621
Ohio State    16    587    359    1    .620
Vanderbilt    16    607    374    0    .619
UL-Lafayette    16    604    372    1    .619

Legends of the Fall
Registering consistent off-season performances in the program's fall training period is still one of the best ways to catch a coach's attention in college baseball, and the Owls' 2014 fall training was no exception. Newcomers like true freshmen Ricardo Salinas and Ryan Chandler turned in sound and solid outings to give themselves a possible wealth of playing time this spring. Salinas maintained a 2.35 ERA in 23.0 fall innings while striking out 17 with a .227 opponents' batting average. Chandler, a local prep star from Strake Jesuit, batted .294 while playing sensational defense in centerfield... Freshman Glenn Otto distinguished himself as a right-handed option on the mound... Junior shortstop Leon Byrd meanwhile showed perhaps the biggest improvement over the last calendar year while batting a team-best .431 with a .608 fall slugging percentage.

Owls Ink Eight In Early Signing Period
The Rice baseball program has signed eleven high school standouts in the early period who will join the team for the 2016 season. The list of newest Owls includes: Dominic DiCaprio, Zachary Esquivel, Kendal Jefferies, Gavin Johnson, Jackson Parthasarathy, Jay Proctor, Braden Rollins, Brent Schwarz, Jacob Simon, Cody Staab, and Lucas Wakamatsu. The group consists of four pitchers, two catchers, two infielders, an outfielder and two multi-position players who are versatile enough to contribute as both a pitcher and/or position player/hitter. All are from the high school ranks. Eight are from Texas and two are from the greater Houston area.



The Last Meeting
Houston Baptist1
Rice6
May 7, 2014
Reckling Park
Manny Happy Returns; Owls Defeat HBU Wednesday 6-1
The Rice baseball team collected double-digit hits and rode a solid start from senior pitcher Chase McDowell for a 6-1 victory over visiting Houston Baptist in the Owls' return to action Wednesday night at Reckling Park.



 

 

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