Owls Host First Home Series Friday

March 1, 2018
E-mail baseball SID John Sullivan
E-mail baseball promotions & game-music director Ari Bard

Visit These Links
LISTEN online (pregame show 15 min. before start)
GAME PROMOTIONS (Full lineup of activities this weekend!)

PDF of Rice's pregame release

March 2 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; HBU at Rice Read Across America Day
GameTracker (activates at game time)

March 3 (Sat.) 1 pm; HBU at Rice First Responders Day
GameTracker (activates at game time)

March 4 (Sun.) 1 pm; HBU at Rice Kids Day!
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Rice Hosts HBU Friday In First Home Series
Owls Welcome Huskies For Three Games At Reckling Park
For the first time this season the Rice baseball team (3-5 overall) is hosting a weekend home series at Reckling Park (March 2-4). The Owls opened the 2018 schedule in Orlando, Fla., in a tough tournament featuring No. 15 Virginia, No. 22 UCF and Samford. Last weekend the Blue & Gray were on the west coast for a four-game road series vs. an undefeated Stanford squad that is ranked in the Top 10. Start time Friday vs. HBU is set for 6:30 pm. The first pitch for both the Saturday and Sunday games is 1 pm... After facing HBU, Rice is then back out of the road for a pair of midweek games at Texas State (March 6) and Lamar (March 7).

Watch Home Games Online Via CUSAtv
Home games at Reckling Park are slated for a live online video broadcast via CUSAtv. The broadcast is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like production on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). Games that have been selected for TV broadcasts can alter the online availability.

Play-By-Play Audio On The Web
Every Rice baseball game is scheduled for a live audio broadcast on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the broadcast's pregame show 15 minutes before first pitch. J.P. Heath returns to the booth for his tenth season as the voice of the Owls. He has the weekend call vs. HBU. Matt Pedersen is also scheduled to broadcast a host of early-season games.

Fun & Games At Reckling Park
In addition to great baseball there is always `fun & games' at Reckling Park.
• Friday: National Read Across America Day -- Houston Public Library will be inside Reckling Park with interactive activities.
• Saturday: First Responders Day -- Interactive fire engine and SWAT vehicle from the Houston Fire and Police Departments
• Sunday: Rice Kids Club members can receive a free ticket and run the bases after the game. Be sure to keep an eye out for the 2018 baseball poster at the fan services table.

National Postseason Streak At 23-Straight
Rice baseball's 23-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is now the third-longest active streak in the nation. Three of the country's top four streaks of making the NCAA Tournament are all of the active variety. In 2017 Florida State made the field for the 40th-consecutive year, while Cal State Fullerton made it in for the 26th-straight year.

Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceBaseball while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceAthletics. Twitter is perhaps the fastest way to get weather-related changes to the schedule/updated start times.

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

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is beginning his 27th season at Rice. The 2018 campaign marks his 38th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,150-502 with the Owls (677-187 at home, 363-241 on the road and 110-74 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .696, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .696 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 112 games in a single year... Graham is 8-0 vs. HBU (7-0 home, 1-0 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2017, making 23-straight seasons for Rice to earn a NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17. 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, 2014 and 2015, as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11, `13, `14 and `17... 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, all 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 head coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches John Pope (Rice, 1990, Jones College; second year), Paul Janish (Rice, 2004; first year), and Jordan Kopycinski (Texas State, 2010; first year).

1,725 Collegiate Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,150 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,725 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,725-615 in a coaching career that began in 1981 (37 years completed, now in his 38th).

Possible Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham announced Rice's starting pitchers for the HBU series as the right-handed trio of Matt Canterino, Ricardo Salinas and Addison Moss. Here's a little closer look at the upcoming Owl rotation.
Matt Canterino delivered some steady outings in his debut season in 2017. He led Conference USA, and ranked 27th in the NCAA, with 111 strikeouts. Canterino also led the league, and ranked 31st in the nation, for fewest hits allowed per 9.0 innings (6.28) on the way to being named to the 2017 C-USA All-Freshman squad. The Southlake, Texas, native posted wins over Stanford, FIU, Western Kentucky, UAB and Florida Atlantic. He was sensational vs. FAU at the C-USA Tournament, where he struck out a career-high 11 in a career-long 7.2 innings to earn selection to the C-USA All-Tournament team... Now a veteran sophomore, Canterino (0-1, 2.92) was particularly sharp in the team's scrimmages in the off-season training program. He allowed just one hit while fanning eight in his first outing of the season at nationally-ranked UCF (Feb. 17). Last week at No. 9 Stanford, Canterino struck out seven in 6.2 innings of work.
• Redshirt junior Ricardo Salinas was ready to serve as one of the veterans on young Rice pitching staff last year, but the right-hander was sidelined early in his fourth start of 2017 and missed the remainder of the season. Having him for all of 2017 could have made for a completely different year. The former Northshore H.S. Mustang worked hard to rejoin his teammates for 2018, where he is officially listed as a redshirt junior on the field and a senior in the classroom. Salinas (0-1, 8.44 ERA) made a controlled, 3.0 inning start on opening day vs. Samford and struck out four while allowing only one base hit. He worked 2.1 last week on the road at No. 9 Stanford.
• Two weeks ago versatile Addison Moss (0-2, 2.19 ERA) was sound and solid working a career-long 6.2 innings in his season debut vs. No. 15 ranked Virginia (Feb. 18). He then Had another good start working into the sixth inning at No. 9 Stanford, but was charged with four unearned runs after an Owl fielding error would have ended the inning. So far this season he's held all opposing hitters to a composite .205 average... As a freshman in 2017, Moss played either as a pitcher or infielder in 33 of the team's 64 games. His regular pitching role was 22 relief appearances totaling 37.2 innings, but he made his first and only collegiate start on the mound in easily the most boisterous environment in all of college baseball - a night game in the NCAA Tournament against nationally-ranked LSU at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. The then true freshman did not show any signs of being influenced by the rowdy crowd. Moss pitched without allowing any walks against the Tigers, but could have used some defensive help from his teammates before being charged with three unearned runs in the second inning... Perhaps his very best Rice outing to date was one very few Americans saw. In November of 2016 he was the lone rookie to play in the Owls' exhibition road game at professional Cuban League team Artemisa (southwest of Havana). The versatile freshman started the game at first base batting seventh in the lineup, and was error-free in the field in nine defensive chances. He then switched spots with Owl starting pitcher Dane Myers in the bottom of the seventh inning and closed out the final 3.0 scoreless frames for an international exhibition save. In his debut on international soil, Moss scattered two singles with no walks and one strikeout in the 4-0 shutout victory at Estadio 26 de Julio in Cuba.   

Last Time Out: Owls Fall Sunday On The Road At No. 9 Stanford, 2-0
PALO ALTO, Calif. - No. 9 ranked Stanford scored a pair of runs on just six hits, and five different Cardinal pitchers combined to make the narrow 2-0 margin stand in a win over the visiting Rice baseball team in the finale of a four-game weekend series Feb. 25 in Palo Alto, Calif.... Stanford was quick to jump on the scoreboard for a run in the top of the first inning. Maverick Handley reached on a fielder's choice and scored from first base on a double by Daniel Bakst... The Owls threatened for runs loading the bases in three different innings, but never collected the big hit in a seven-hit attack. The Blue & Gray was 0-for-5 in its at bats with the bases loaded and just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position overall... Stanford took advantage of an Owl fielding error to add an unearned run in the seventh. The Cardinal remained unbeaten moving to 8-0 and stretched its home win-streak to 16-straight dating back to last season... The Rice duo of Ryan Chandler and Braden Comeaux both recorded two base hits on the day. Right-handed pitcher Garrett Gayle was solid striking out four in 2.2 innings of work, but the Owls dropped to 3-5 overall.

Career Climber
In the finale at Stanford senior Ryan Chandler moved into ninth place on Rice's all-time list for official career at bats with 756. The senior from Houston also started his 193rd career game that (where all have been in centerfield).  He needs 17 more starts to tie for tenth all-time at Rice.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2018 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
1-0 in all-white
1-1 in all pinstripes
1-1 in blue Rice jersey with pinstripe pants
0-1 in blue Rice jersey with gray pants
0-2 in all-gray

Preseason Eyes On Canterino For National Honors
DALLAS -- Rice's Matt Canterino has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' (NCBWA) 2018 Preseason All-America Third Team, the organization announced on February 5... Canterino's sensational debut season of Division I baseball included selection to the C-USA All-Tournament and All-Freshmen teams. As a rookie right-hander in 2017, the Southlake, Texas, native finished 12th in the nation with 10.4 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (minimum 96.0 inn.) and led the league with the fewest hits allowed per 9.0 innings (6.28). During one stretch of games Canterino posted double-digit strikeouts in three consecutive starts, becoming the first Owl to accomplish that feat since eventual major leaguer Jeff Niemann in 2003.

Preseason C-USA Accolades
IRVING, Texas - The Owl trio of Matt Canterino, Dominic DiCaprio and Ford Proctor were all tabbed for preseason honors in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll, the C-USA office announced on Jan. 24... After sensational individual seasons in 2017, the Owls' veteran standouts have the full attention of the 12 C-USA head coaches. Three players are the most selections from one team, with Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss also placing a trio on the league's 14-player preseason squad. As a team, the C-USA coaches collectively picked Rice to finish second in the 2018 regular season race behind defending regular season champ Southern Miss. The Owls defeated the Golden Eagles for the 2017 C-USA tournament crown to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

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

P - Matt Canterino, So., Rice
P - Nick MacDonald, So., FIU
P - Jake Miednik, Sr., Florida Atlantic
RP - Nick Sandlin, Jr., Southern Miss
C - Dominic DiCaprio, Jr., Rice
IF - Bryan Arias, Jr., UTSA
IF - Tyler Frank, Jr., Florida Atlantic
IF - Ford Proctor, Jr., Rice
IF - Vinny Pasquantino, So., Old Dominion
OF - Kyle Battle, So., Old Dominion
OF - Mason Irby, Sr., Southern Miss
OF - David Miranda, Sr., Florida Atlantic
OF - Matt Wallner, So., Southern Miss
DH/UT - Aaron Aucker, Sr., Middle Tennessee

Matt Wallner, Southern Miss (Sophomore, OF/P)

Nick Sandlin, Southern Miss (Junior, RHP)

1. Southern Miss (11)
2. Rice (1)
3. Florida Atlantic
4. Old Dominion
5. FIU
6. Charlotte
7. Louisiana Tech
9. Middle Tennessee
10. Marshall
11. UAB
12. WKU
(first place votes in parentheses)...

DiCaprio & Proctor Named To Bragan Slugger Award Watch List
Both Ford Proctor and Dominic DiCaprio have been named to the initial watch list for the 2018 Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award... From its headquarters in the DFW Metroplex, the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation has combined a passion for baseball and providing youngsters with the incentive and opportunity to pursue a college education for more than 25 years. Starting in 2017, one position player from a Division I baseball school in Texas will be presented with the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award -- based on performance at the plate, academics and personal integrity. The winner of the award will be announced in June and honored at a gala in the fall... DiCaprio, now a junior, was one of four finalists for the same award a year ago. The Coral Springs, Fla., native started 63 of the team's 64 games, including 58 times behind the plate. DiCaprio led the team in batting average (.366) and on-base percentage (.438), and was second on the squad in hits (87) and RBI (49). He helped carry the team in the second half of last season, hitting .385 over the final 32 games... Proctor was a fixture in the lineup last season, starting all 64 games at shortstop and playing all 553.2 innings at shortstop. He led the Owls in runs scored (58) and walks (39) and was second on the team with 19 doubles. The standout from Beaumont collected two or more hits in a game 17 times, including a career-high tying three hits in a game seven different times.

Last Season's Final NCAA RPI: 41
If you have disdain for the politics of the various baseball polls and prefer the cold, hard math of the NCAA's official Rating Power Index (RPI), then consider that Rice's final 2017 RPI was No. 41 in the nation. Rice was among four C-USA schools ranked in the top 51 of last season's final RPI.

New At Reckling Park! Bixby Batting Barn; New Fan "Roost"
Rice's Reckling Park, the best place to watch and play a college game, is better than ever this season after its most-recent renovations that benefit both the student-athletes and fans. In the on-going commitment to player development, the enclosed Bixby Batting Barn down the right-field line has been upgraded with expansion and remodeling. The final phase of the upgrade is the installment of large color banners showcasing the program's 37 former Owls who have gone on to play in the major leagues. The true-blue fans meanwhile will be sure to flock to the permanent new `Roost' on the first base side for in-game hospitality. The fully-air conditioned facility features its own restrooms, lobby and service area, as well as a tiered outdoor patio that is close to the action but safe with newly installed netting.

Rice Owls On The Coaching Staff
There are two former Rice Owls on Wayne Graham's 2018 coaching staff. Rice graduate and two-time Texas High School Baseball Coach of the Year John Pope (Jones College 1990) is in his second season as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He played his final two collegiate seasons at Rice in 1988 and 1989 and went on to log 19 years of coaching in the high school ranks in the greater Houston area. Former major leaguer and 2003 Rice National Champion Paul Janish joined the Owls' baseball staff as an assistant coach in August of 2017. Janish (Wiess College) played professionally the last 13 years with nine seasons in the major leagues, most recently in 2017 with the Baltimore Orioles... "It is a unique challenge to be a student-athlete at Rice," coach Graham explained. "I like having former Rice players on the coaching staff who have already been through the experience. It is important our players are able to relate to the staff in that way."

Rookie Ball!
There are some Rice newcomers to keep an eye on in 2018. Third baseman Braden Comeaux joins the Owls as a sophomore transfer from LSU-Eunice, the No. 2 junior college program in the nation. Comeaux started 55 games for the Bengals primarily at shortstop, where he batted .377 with 53 runs scored, 49 RBI, a .447 on-base percentage and 30 stolen bases. True freshman second baseman Trei Cruz is a highly honored switch-hitting prep standout from nearby Episcopal High School who was selected in the 33rd round of the 2017 Major League Draft by the hometown Astros. Cruz is a Rice University legacy player as his father, Jose Cruz Jr. (1993-1995), and uncle, Enrique Cruz (2001-2003) both played for coach Graham.

Take A Closer Look At Last Year
Rice had 31 losses in 2017, but a closer look is in order. The Owls always play a tough schedule, and a year ago the team played 27 games against eleven different teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament. In fact if you want to talk about a tough opening stretch, consider each of the Owls' first nine games to start 2017 (vs. the likes of Texas, Dallas Baptist, Southeastern Louisiana and TCU) all went on to make the NCAA Tournament. The final margin in eleven of the losses was two runs (or less), and six of the losses were by a single run. The Owls saw a number of star players, including MLB draft pick Tristan Gray, Jackson Parthasarathy, Ricardo Salinas and Josh Pettitte, all sidelined at various points during the season.

21 Conference Titles In The Last 22 Years
After one year away Rice reclaimed a conference championship in 2017 by winning the C-USA Tournament title in Biloxi, Miss. From 1996 to 2015 the Owls had won or shared a total of 20-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles). The streak covered membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and now 11 C-USA titles from 2006-2017. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 22 years:
Year    Conf.    Regular Season    Conf. Tourney
2017    C-USA    6th    1st
2016    C-USA    4th    2nd
2015    C-USA    1st    tied 7th
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

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 19 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999-2017 (note: this listing will not be updated to include games played in 2018):
Team    Years    Wins    Loses    Ties    PCT
Florida State    19    922    344    1    .728
Rice    19    870    357    0    .709
North Carolina    19    846    360    1    .701
LSU    19    859    374    6    .696
South Carolina    19    861    380    0    .694
Cal St. Fullerton    19    814    371    0    .687
Coastal Carolina    19    806    368    1    .686
Miami (Fla.)    19    813    371    3    .686
Oral Roberts    19    776    360    0    .683
Texas    19    811    397    1    .671
Arizona State    19    731    367    2    .665
Virginia    19    765    393    3    .660
Georgia Tech    19    773    405    1    .656
Oregon State    19    715    381    1    .652
TCU    19    766    411    0    .651
Florida    19    789    426    2    .649
Louisville    19    757    412    1    .647
Clemson    19    795    433    1    .647
Nebraska    19    738    409    3    .643
Stanford    19    732    411    2    .640
Florida Atlantic    19    725    410    2    .639
Texas A&M    19    759    431    3    .637
Kent State    19    712    405    0    .637
Dallas Baptist    12    451    257    0    .637
East Carolina    19    729    420    4    .634
Oklahoma St.    19    724    424    0    .631
Southern Miss    19    727    426    1    .630
Tulane    19    726    429    2    .628
Col. of Charleston    19    704    418    2    .627
Vanderbilt    19    737    439    1    .627
Louisiana    19    724    437    2    .623
St. John's    19    669    408    3    .621
Ole Miss    19    726    448    1    .618
Arkansas    19    723    453    0    .615

The Last Meeting
Houston Baptist1
May 31, 2015
Houston, Texas
Owls Stay Alive With 3-1 Win Over HBU
The Owls are playing two today. The Rice baseball team defeated crosstown foe Houston Baptist in Sunday afternoon's re-started early elimination game of the NCAA Tournament by a score of 3-1.





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