Homestand Continues As Owls Host New Mexico State Tues.-Wed.

Feb. 20, 2012

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    Feb. 21 (Tues.) 4:30 pm; Rice vs. New Mexico State
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    Feb. 22 (Wed.) 4:30 pm; Rice vs. New Mexico State
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    Feb. 24 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; Rice vs. Dallas Baptist
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    Feb. 25 (Sat.) 2 pm; Rice vs. Dallas Baptist
    Title Sponsor: Jani King
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    Feb. 26 (Sun.) 1 pm; Rice vs. Dallas Baptist¬
    Special Promotion: Houston Zoo Kids Day! At every Sunday home game all kids 14 and under get to take the field for the National Anthem and run the bases post-game.
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    Owls Continue Homestand With Five Games In Six Days
    After a three-game season-opening sweep of 2011 NCAA Tournament participant FIU over the weekend, the No. 4 ranked Rice baseball team (3-0) continues its current homestand with a two-game series on Feb. 21-22 (Tues.-Wed.). The Owls host New Mexico State (3-1) at Reckling Park in a pair of 4:30 pm games... The homestand continues through Sunday with Rice hosting state-rival Dallas Baptist in a three-game weekend series Feb. 24-26. Start times against the DBU patriots are set for 6:30 pm (Fri.), 2 pm (Sat.) and 1 pm (Sun.). (Listed times are Central Time).

    Watch The Second Two Games On OwlVision All Access
    Most home baseball 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). The service has been growing in popularity the last few years. Information about the service and subscription prices are available here. Access the service on game day at the above links.

    Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web & At The Park
    Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at Use the above link to access the Internet audio page. Tune-in to the pregame show 30 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The frequency for the proximity broadcast at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM.

    Live Stats On GameTracker
    Live play-by-play text and statistics from every game will be posted on Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, or the baseball schedule page.

    National Ranking Update • Rice No. 4
    Rice was ranked in the Top 10 of six different polls to start the 2012 campaign. The team made some progress in the polls after the sweep of FIU. Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:

    Poll This Week Last Season tba 4 4 4
    Baseball America 5 6
    USA Today/ESPN tba 7
    Collegiate Baseball Magazine 5 7
    NCBWA 7 8

    Rice University Centennial; 96th Season On The Baseball Field
    Rice University is celebrating its centennial in 2012. 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 2012 season is, however, only the Owls' 96th 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 1,819 - 1,470 - 9.

    Head Coach Wayne Graham
    Four-time national coach of the year and Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 21st season at Rice. The 2012 campaign marks his 32nd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 915-361 with the Owls (553-127 at home, 274-183 in road games and 88-51 at neutral sites). His Rice 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... Graham's record vs. this week's opponent(s) is: 0-0 vs. New Mexico State and 13-5 vs. Dallas Baptist (12-4 at home, 1-1 away)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2011, making 17-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. 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 and 2011 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09 and `11... 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 and `10... 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 Mike Taylor (Prairie View A&M, 1997; 12th year), Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; seventh year), and Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; first year)... On game days Hallmark coaches at third base while Van Hook coaches at first base.

    1,490 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
    Wayne Graham owns 915 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,490 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,490-474 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.

    Probable Rice Pitcher
    Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitching rotation for the New Mexico State series as the right-handed duo of redshirt sophomore Chase McDowell (0-0, 0.00) and junior Andrew Benak (0-0, 0.00). The Owl starters for the Dallas Baptist series will be announced by Coach Graham at a later time.

  • Chase McDowell appeared in a total of 13 games in 2011, and was on the way to a dynamic year as a multi-role player, before suffering a season-ending injury in mid-March. He saw starting action as both a pitcher (four games) and outfielder (four games), with five other appearances as a sub (on the mound or as a PH). McDowell fired a sensational, complete-game four-hitter against UC-Santa Barbara at AT&T Park in San Francisco (Mar. 13). He held UCSB to one run on four hits and a walk while striking out four in his second win of the 2011 season. His complete game was one of only three by the Owls all year. McDowell then started six days later at home against Louisiana Tech and had a perfect game for 4.0 innings, but left the mound after 4.1 in what proved to be his last Rice appearance of the season (Mar. 19). The College Station, Tex., native notched first career win on the road in a start at nationally-ranked Arizona, allowing three earned runs in 5.2 frames. He finished with a 5.14 ERA in seven total games, but ERA as starter was a steady 3.57. McDowell averaged 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings and maintained a 3.8-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He struck out a career-high five in first career start against eventual NCAA Regional participant Texas State. The right-hander also pitched against regional-bound teams Baylor and Stanford (on Opening Day). Almost half of McDowell's total innings (13.1) were against the talented teams that went on to play in the 2011 postseason.
  • Andrew Benak is scheduled to make his first start of the season on Wednesday after an inning of relief against FIU on Sunday. He made his 2011 debut with 2.1 innings against Lamar (Feb. 22) and went on to face USC, Arizona, Kentucky, Sam Houston State and TAMU-Corpus Christi. The 6-foot-5 Houston native was brilliant in a Mar. 1 relief outing on the road against the No. 11 Arizona, holding the Wildcats to a run on one hit and a walk over a season-long 3.0 innings. That outing helped him earn a midweek starting assignment against a then red-hot Sam Houston team that was 10-2 at the time. The former Langham Creek H.S. was sidelined from action for almost all of the spring of 2010, but he worked hard to bounce back and contribute. His outings in the fall program and 2012 preseason helped him earn him his fifth collegiate start.
  • New Mexico State announced its probable starting pitchers for the series as junior right-hander Tyler Mack (0-0, 0.00) and junior right-hander Evan Mott (0-0, 3.38).

    Previous Outing: Rice Clinches Season-Opening Sweep of FIU
    HOUSTON - The No. 6 ranked Rice baseball team exploded for five runs in the bottom of the first inning on the way to an 8-1 victory over visiting FIU Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park. With the win the Owls completed the three-game sweep of the opening weekend series to start the young season 3-0 for the first time since 2006... The Owls opportunistically took advantage of four walks and two hit batters to take a big 5-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning. Senior catcher Craig Manuel delivered a one-out double to center field with the bases-loaded for a 3-0 lead, but the offense wasn't finished. J.T. Chargois singled-home Manuel for a fourth run and Christian Stringer drew a bases-loaded walk when the Blue & Gray batted around to stretch the margin to five... FIU answered with a run in the top of the third to make it 5-1. Julius Gaines led off with a single and scored on Rudy Flores? two-out single after a walk and a ground out... Rice got the run right back in its next at bat. Junior first baseman Ryan Lewis connected on a pitch for a shot that cleared the right field wall. Lewis second career round-tripper made the score 6-1. The team has already tallied four home runs in the first three games of the season after hitting 23 in 63 games last year... The Owls added two more runs in the seventh. Stringer led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Ford Stainback. Michael Fuda singled him home and later scored on a failed pickoff attempt that made it 8-1... Freshman right-hander Jordan Stephens started on the mound for Rice and worked 4.1 innings in his Division I debut. He allowed a run and struck out three before being relieved by sophomore John Simms, junior Andrew Benak and freshman Trevor Simms. The trio did not allow any runs the rest of the way, scattering three hits and two walks while combining for four strikeouts... The Rice defense saved a run in the top of the eighth. With two away and a Panther running from second on a base hit to right field, junior Jeremy Rathjen made a long throw to the plate and Manuel quickly applied a sweeping tag to end the inning.

    Openers Under Wayne Graham
    Looking sharp out of the gate is nothing new for Rice under Wayne Graham. The Owls are 15-6 in their season-opener under Graham and 18-3 in their home-opener.

    Rice Baseball's TV Lineup Announced
    HOUSTON - Rice Athletics has announced its preliminary lineup of Owl baseball games that will be televised in the upcoming 2012 season. There are 11 Rice games tabbed for a television broadcast by a host of national networks. The number of televised games could still increase during the course of the year, including games in the C-USA Championship where the May 27 Final is set for a broadcast on CBS College Sports... Rice's televised games begin in March. All three Rice games from the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park are set for a broadcast by either ESPN 3 (vs. Texas Tech and Tennessee) and/or The Longhorn Network (vs. Texas). Eight regular season home games from Reckling Park will be televised beginning on March 13. Note there will be a new start time on four of the home games to accommodate the broadcast of contests with Arizona (Mar. 13), Texas State (April 10), and Stephen F. Austin (May 8) - all of which are now 6 pm starts... Rice's May 5 game vs. crosstown rival Houston now begins at 1:30 pm. All three C-USA league games against UH in May will be televised. Rice baseball returns to play on familiar networks with games on CSS Sports, Fox Sports Net, and Fox College Sports. The full 2012 TV lineup for Rice baseball is listed below.

    Rice's 2012 Games Selected For Television Broadcast
    March 2 vs. Texas - 7 pm Longhorn Network
    March 3 vs. Texas Tech - 7 pm ESPN 3
    March 4 vs. Tennessee - 6 pm ESPN 3
    March 13 vs. Arizona - 6 pm* CSS Sports
    March 14 vs. Arizona - 6:30 pm CSS Sports
    April 1 vs. Southern Miss - 1 pm FOX Sports Net
    April 10 vs. Texas State - 6 pm* CSS Sports
    May 4 vs. Houston - 6:30 pm FOX College Sports
    May 5 vs. Houston - 1:30 pm FOX Sports Net
    May 6 vs. Houston - 1 pm CSS Sports
    May 8 vs. Stephen F. Austin - 6 pm* CSS Sports
    (May 27 C-USA Championship - 1 pm) CBS College Sports
    * - denotes a new starting time

    Get an updated printable Rice Baseball Schedule here Get Acrobat Reader

    The C-USA Favorites
    IRVING, Tex. - With four preseason all-conference players, including sophomore Austin Kubitza as the 2012 Preseason Pitcher of the Year, the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll, the C-USA office announced on Jan. 26.

    The Owls' junior trio of pitcher Tyler Duffey, Michael Ratterree and Jeremy Rathjen joined Kubitza on C-USA's 2012 list, giving Rice the most preseason honorees of any school in the annual coaches' survey.

    There has been a steady stream of preseason honors for Austin Kubitza, a third team 2012 preseason All-America selection by both Collegiate Baseball magazine and the College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). A year ago Kubitza had an outstanding debut at the Division I level where he was named a Freshman All-America. He went 6-5 on the mound in his role as the Owls' Friday night starter (the spot often matched against the opposing team's ace pitcher). The right-hander from Colleyville, Tex., led the Owls' and ranked among the C-USA leaders in ERA (2.34), innings (100.0) and strikeouts (102).

    Though Jeremy Rathjen's was sidelined with an injury for most of last season, his return to Rice's 2012 lineup was not lost on the C-USA coaches. In 2011 Rathjen started each of the first 16 games in centerfield and as the cleanup hitter where he hit .295. The Houston native from Memorial High School was leading the team in RBI, doubles, multi-hit and multi-RBI games before getting sidelined, but didn't play the final two-thirds of the season. In June Rathjen was regarded high enough to be selected in the major league draft by the New York Yankees, but he chose not to sign professionally and returned to Rice with a redshirt season.

    Ratterree was named to the C-USA outfield, his new position on the team after starting 58 games at second base last season. The 6-foot-1 junior led the Owls (and finished third in C-USA) in both RBI (53) and total bases (125), while sharing the team lead in hitting (.327) and home runs (6). The Houston native and fellow Memorial High School star's hitting in the second half of the season helped pave the way to Rice's C-USA regular season co-championship. In addition to having at least one base hit in 30-of-32 games from April 3 until the end of the year, Ratterree hit an eye-opening .421 with a .640 slugging percentage and 25 runs scored over the team's final 25 games. Last month Collegiate Baseball selected Ratterree to its preseason All-America squad as a second team outfielder.

    Duffey finished third in the conference in appearances (30) and tied for third in the league in wins (8) to go along with a 2.52 ERA, but his sterling play in the second half of the season made the biggest impression on C-USA coaches. Over his last 34.1 innings of the season he maintained a 0.79 ERA, held opponents to a .206 batting average and allowed just one extra-base hit. The area standout from nearby Bellaire High School was named the MVP of the C-USA Tournament after two brilliant outings over a three-day span where Rice claimed the league title and automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

    Rice returns 22 experienced lettermen to the roster in 2012, including eight returning starters in the field and a host of veteran pitchers. The Owls have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring. The Owls were recently ranked sixth in Baseball America's preseason poll and seventh by Collegiate Baseball.

    (as selected by C-USA's head coaches)

    1. Rice (8)

    2. UCF (1)
    3. East Carolina
    4. Southern Miss
    5. Houston
    6. Tulane
    7. Memphis
    8. UAB
    9. Marshall
    (first place votes in parentheses)

    D.J. Hicks, UCF (Junior, Designated Hitter/Pitcher)

    Austin Kubitza, Rice (Sophomore, Right-hander)

    P Kevin Brandt Sr. East Carolina
    P Austin Kubitza So. Rice
    P Dillon Napoleon Sr. UAB
    RP Tyler Duffey Jr. Rice
    C Jeremy Schaffer Sr. Tulane
    C Zach Wright Sr. East Carolina
    IF Chase Jensen Jr. Houston
    IF Darnell Sweeney Jr. UCF
    IF Corey Thompson Sr. East Carolina
    IF Jacob Wilson Sr. Memphis
    OF Kameron Brunty Sr. Southern Miss
    OF Jeremy Rathjen Jr. Rice
    OF Michael Ratterree Jr. Rice

    OF Ronnie Richardson Jr. UCF
    DH/UT D.J. Hicks Jr. UCF

    Nation's Top Win Percentage From 1999 To 2011
    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 the nation's top win percentage. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2011: (This list does not include any 2012 results.)
    Team, Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
    Rice, 635-221-0 (.742)
    Florida State, 651-227-1 (.741)
    Oral Roberts, 561-224-0 (.715)
    Texas, 614-247-1 (.713)
    Coastal Carolina, 573-234-0 (.710)
    North Carolina, 589-246-1 (.705)
    Cal State Fullerton, 579-244-0 (.704)
    Arizona State, 531-224-1 (.703)
    South Carolina, 612-261-0 (.701)
    Miami, 565-246-3 (.696)
    Wichita State, 598-276-0 (.684)
    Georgia Tech, 551-255-1 (.683)
    LSU, 558-276-5 (.668)
    Clemson, 566-288-1 (.663)
    Nebraska, 527-268-2 (.662)
    Tulane, 532-275-2 (.659)
    Stanford, 527-274-2 (.658)
    East Carolina, 519-271-0 (.657)
    Notre Dame, 511-271-5 (.652)
    Coll. of Charleston, 487-279-0 (.636)
    Florida, 517-300-2 (.632)
    TCU, 498-290-0 (.632)
    Southern Miss, 503-296-0 (.630)
    Alabama, 508-300-0 (.629)
    Virginia, 498-294-2 (.628)

    Postseason Streak At 17-Straight, Looking For 18
    The Rice baseball program has made 17-consecutive appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship, which ranks as the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 39 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (34) and Cal State Fullerton (20). Rice's 17-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is tied for the seventh-longest national postseason streak in Division I history (with LSU, 1989-2005).

    Conference Championship Streak At 16-Straight, Looking For 17
    Rice has won or shared a total of 16-straight conference championships (including either regular season or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference, to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and six Conference USA titles in as many years. In 2011 the Blue & Gray tied for the C-USA regular season co-championship (with Southern Miss) before winning the tournament title in late May.

    17-Straight 40-Win Seasons
    Rice has clinched 17th-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 42 wins in 16 of the last 17 years.

    19-Straight 30-Win Seasons
    Rice has reached the 30-win plateau for 19th-straight seasons. Only five other schools in the country have longer active streaks of having won at least 30 games: Arizona State (now 49 years), Miami-Fla. (41 years), Clemson and Cal State Fullerton (both 37 years), and Georgia Tech (29).

    Best Opening Weekend In Reckling Park History
    The recent FIU series proved to be a well-attended weekend despite a two-and-a-half hour rain delay in the opener and the threat of rain all day Saturday. Last year the Stanford series was the best-attended opening weekend in Reckling Park history. Here's how some other opening weekends have added-up. (Many of the previous opening weekends were in a tournament format against three different opponents.)
    Year, 1st Weekend Total (Average)
    1. 2011 - 12,182 (4,060)
    2. 2009 - 10,950 (3,650)
    3. 2004 - 10,117 (3,372)
    4. 2012 - 9,615 (3,205)
    5. 2010 - 9,198 (3,066)

    Welcome Back Rice Baseball Alumni
    Over 100 Rice baseball lettermen, from as far back as the 1940s to the recent College World Series teams, were on hand Feb. 4 at Reckling Park as the Rice Owls baseball program celebrated its rich heritage with its biennial Alumni Weekend... A host of former players, many still playing professionally and some who were in the major leagues in 2011 like Joe Savery and Lance Pendleton, came home to Reckling Park to renew friendships and see old teammates. There may have been a little rani, but it was a fun day for all.
    Check out the video of the Baseball Alumni Fan Fest here

    Winning Is Always In Fashion
    For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 2-0 in its all-white uniforms and 1-0 in the pinstripes.



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