Undefeated Owls Head Downtown For Houston College Classic Mar. 2-4
Rice Plays The Final Game Each Night
Feb. 29, 2012
Internet features activate at game time.
Undefeated Owls Head Way Downtown Mar. 2-4 For Houston College Classic
The undefeated Rice baseball team (9-0) plays three games downtown at Minute Maid Park this weekend (Mar. 2-4) as part of the annual Houston College Classic Tournament. The Owls are scheduled as the final game all three nights of the College Classic, one of the elite regular season tournaments played at the home venue of the Houston Astros. Rice meets the University of Texas on Friday, followed by Texas Tech on Saturday, and Tennessee on Sunday. All games of the tournament are scheduled for a television broadcast on either the Longhorn Network or ESPN 3...
Watch The Games On-line
Even when the Owls are away from Reckling Park like they are this weekend, there is still a chance to watch the games live on-line. At game time use the above video links to watch the various live video feeds.
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 RiceOwls.com. 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 RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, or the baseball schedule page.
Rice At Minute Maid Park
Rice will be playing at the Houston College Classic for the 12th year in a row. The Owls are 24-9 in 33 games at Minute Maid Park, the most wins of any team in the history of the event. Rice went 2-1 at the tournament last season, defeating Kentucky 8-7 and Texas A&M 1-0 before falling to Baylor 12-8... When playing at Minute Maid Park, Rice is 2-3 vs. Texas and 6-0 vs. Texas Tech... The Blue & Gray is also 4-2 vs. Texas A&M, 5-2 vs. Baylor, 2-0 vs. TCU, 1-0 vs. Kansas State, 1-0 vs. Kentucky, 1-0 vs. Oklahoma, 1-0 vs. Oklahoma State, 1-0 vs. UCLA, and 0-1 vs. Alabama and 0-1 vs. Vanderbilt...
Rice Highlights At The College Classic
The Owls won all three of their games in the inaugural tournament in 2001, but have had plenty of drama downtown over the years. Jesse Roman hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning vs. Baylor for the Owls' 1-0 victory in the first college game ever played in what was then called Enron Field. A highlight of 2002 was Dane Bubela's home run in the top of the 12th to give Rice' a 10-9 victory over Baylor. The Blue & Gray lost its first game of the 2003 season on a Sunday at Minute Maid by a score of 6-5 to Alabama (Feb. 16). The most notable aspect of the 2003 tournament was that it served as surreal springboard for the next few weeks. After falling to Alabama by a single run the Owls won 30 games in a row and didn't lose again for nearly two months. Rice went on to claim the national championship. In 2005 Rice junior pitcher and future major leaguer Josh Geer was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Geer held nationally-ranked Texas A&M in check for 8.0 innings, allowing just one run (unearned), one hit and two walks with five strikeouts in front of a raucous crowd. He retired 21 in a row at one point and induced 16 ground ball outs. In 2009 the Owls had a whirlwind three days at the Classic, defeating UCLA in ten innings when Michael Fuda scored from second base on an infield hit. Eventual MLB draft pick Ryan Berry then showcased a pitching performance that was maybe even more dominating than Geer's two years before. Berry fired a complete-game two-hit shutout victory against Texas A&M. The Humble, Tex., native allowed just one hit through the first eight innings, struck out 12 and did not walk a batter. For his efforts Berry was named the Most Outstanding Player of the College Classic and the National Pitcher of the Week by Collegiate Baseball. In 2010 it was three nail-biting, one-run games against three longtime state rivals (Texas, TCU and Texas Tech). Texas was No. 3 in the country and TCU went on to play in the College World Series. Last season the Owls had three suspenseful games, including two one-run wins. The 2011 highlight was Austin Kubitza's masterful, complete-game, six-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over Texas A&M on day two. In only his third start at the Division I level, Kubitza faced only 31 batters on an Aggie team ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation for his first collegiate win. He scattered six hits without any walks and tied a career-best with seven strikeouts. For that effort he was named the Outstanding Player of the Classic and the National Pitcher of the Week.
National Ranking Update Rice No. 4
Rice was ranked in the Top 10 of a host of different polls to start the 2012 campaign. The team made some progress in the polls after the perfect 8-0 start to the season (heading into this week). Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:
|Poll||This Week||Last Week|
|Collegiate Baseball Magazine||4||5|
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 1,828 - 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 921-361 with the Owls (558-127 at home, 275-183 in road games and 88-51 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .718, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .718 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 weekend's opponents is: 23-33 vs. Texas (11-11 at home, 6-17 away, 6-5 neutral); 19-16 vs. Texas Tech (6-4 at home, 4-8 away, 9-4 neutral); 0-0 vs. Tennessee... 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.
1,496 Wins A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 921 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,496 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,496-474 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.
Probable Rice Pitcher(s)
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitching rotation for the upcoming College Classic as the right-handed duo of sophomore Austin Kubitza (1-0, 3.86) and senior Matthew Reckling (1-0, 0.00), respectively, for the first two games. Coach Graham will announce the Sunday starter at a later time.
Previous Outing: Owls Cage Cougars Tuesday Night, 4-1
HOUSTON - The No. 4 ranked Rice baseball team pushed across four unanswered runs in the middle innings for a 4-1 victory over city rival Houston in a non-conference game Tuesday night across town at Cougar Field... With the win the Owls remained undefeated on the young season an improved to 9-0. The 9-0 ledger is Rice's best start to a season since beginning the 1993 season with 14-straight wins... Houston struck for the first run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Casey Grayson led off with a single to center field and he advanced second base on John Cannon's sacrifice bunt. Grayson scored on Zack Gibson's hit into center for a 1-0 Cougar lead... The Owls came right back and took the lead in their next at bat. Michael Ratterree drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position on a ground out. Ratterree hustled home on Shane Hoelscher's RBI single to left-center to make it 1-1, but Rice was not finished. Hoelscher scored from first base on a double to left-center by Ryan Lewis to put the Blue & Gray in front 2-1... Rice took advantage of two Houston fielding errors for another run in the top of the sixth. Christian Stringer led off with a single through the right side. Two UH fielding errors on an attempted pickoff play allowed Stringer to move two stations to third base. He scored on a one-out single by J.T. Chargois for a 3-1 advantage. The Owls stretched the margin to 4-1 with another run in the seventh after two more UH fielding errors and a balk... Junior right-hander Andrew Benak started on the mound for the Owls and allowed just the one run over 5.0 innings. He scattered three hits with four walks and struck out four. Benak was relieved by sophomore right-hander John Simms, who fired two scoreless frames with three strikeouts. Junior Tyler Duffey worked 1.1 hitless innings out of the bullpen before Chargois finished out the last two outs of the night for his team-leading fourth save of the season... Rice head coach Wayne Graham, now in his 21st season at the helm of the program, liked what he saw of the pitching from both teams. The Owl bullpen meanwhile has not allowed an earned run in its last 15 innings over the last four games... "Benak pitched solid," said coach Graham. "He had a quality start and we needed one. Their pitcher (UH junior RHP Austin Pruitt) was the ace of the junior college national champion, so he knows how to pitch. This was a tough one, and a good one to get. We have a lot of tough games up here (in the next few weeks)."
Did You Know?
Rice's 9-0 start to the season is the program's best since an identical undefeated ledger back in 1993. That 1993 Owl squad eventually went 14-0 before suffering its first loss of the season on the road at UL-Lafayette (then Southwestern Louisiana). The national championship team of 2003 was 8-1 through its first eight games, and went on to build a 33-1 ledger through the first 34 games of that season.
Fuda & Reckling Sweep Weekly C-USA Awards
IRVING - The Rice senior duo of Michael Fuda and Matthew Reckling have been named the Conference USA Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for Feb. 20-26 the league office announced Monday (Feb. 27) from its headquarters in Irving, Tex... Both Owls had sensational outings to help the nationally-ranked Rice baseball team go unbeaten in its five games last week and remain undefeated on the young season at 8-0 overall. Reckling posted a career-best start on Feb. 25, firing a two-hit shutout for 8.1 innings with no walks and a career-high 11 strikeouts in a win against a Dallas Baptist team that advanced to an NCAA Super Regional last season. For the entire week, the right-hander from Houston maintained a 0.00 ERA for 9.1 innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks. He also threw a scoreless frame with two strikeouts in a midweek relief appearance against New Mexico State (Feb. 22). Reckling held all opposing hitters to a composite .071 batting average. It is the second time in Reckling's career to earn the C-USA Pitcher of the Week Award (also won on Feb. 21, 2011)... Senior centerfielder Michael Fuda helped lift Rice to its best start since 2001 by going 12-for-21 (.571) with four doubles and a home run for a .905 slugging percentage. He tied for the team lead with five RBI and scored four runs in Rice's five wins. The native of Katy, Tex., had an RBI in every game and at least two hits in four of the games. He drew one walk for a .591 on-base average. This is Fuda's first career C-USA Hitter of the Week Award.
Rice's Televised Games In 2012
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
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.
Kubitza's honors were mentioned above...
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.
2012 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS
(as selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (8)
2. UCF (1)
3. East Carolina
4. Southern Miss
(first place votes in parentheses)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
D.J. Hicks, UCF (Junior, Designated Hitter/Pitcher)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
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).
Solid Opening Weekend At Reckling Park
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 5-0 in its all-white uniforms, 2-0 in the pinstripes, 1-0 in blue tops with white pants and 1-0 in all-gray.
Rice's rugged stretch of non-home games continues into next week when the Blue & Gray play at longtime rival Texas State on March 6 (Tues.). The Owls are finally back home at Reckling Park on March 7 (Wed.) to host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 6:30 pm.