Baseball Returns To The Road This Weekend

March 31, 2016

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Apr. 1 (Fri.) 6 pm; Rice at Middle Tennessee
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Live Stats (activates at game time)

Apr.2 (Sat.) 4 pm; Rice at Middle Tennessee
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Apr. 3 (Sun.) 1 pm; Rice at Middle Tennessee
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The Rice baseball team, 15-9 overall and tied for first place in the Conference USA standings with a 5-1 league record, returns to C-USA action with a three-game weekend road series at Middle Tennessee (April 1-3). Start times against the Blue Raiders are set for 6 pm Friday, 4 pm Saturday and 1 pm Sunday in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Owls enter the series with six-straight wins and have won nine of the last eleven games.

Watch C-USA Games Online Via OwlVision All-Access
Each of Rice's C-USA 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. Games that have been selected for TV broadcasts alter the OwlVision availability.

Play-By-Play Audio On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season is scheduled for a live audio broadcast around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. J.P. Heath is in his eighth 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. Twitter is perhaps the fastest way to get weather-related changes to the schedule/updated start times.

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

NCAA RPI Is On The Way; Owls No. 37 In 2015
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), you'll have to wait a little longer. The NCAA is not scheduled to release the official RPI just yet. A year ago the Owls had the No. 37 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 25th season at Rice. The 2016 campaign marks his 36th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,091-451 with the Owls (652-167 at home, 341-215 on the road and 98-69 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .708, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .708 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 115 games in a single year... Graham is 4-4 vs. Middle Tennessee... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2015, making 21-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15. 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 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 head 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; 11th year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; fifth year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; fourth year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.

1,666 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,091 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,666 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,666-564 in a 35-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Wayne Graham Radio Show Airs Monday Nights
The Wayne Graham Radio Show, the live weekly Rice baseball show featuring coach Wayne Graham, airs on Monday nights at 7 pm through the remainder of the season. The show originates from The Genghis Grill Restaurant between Wesleyan and Edloe on the Southwest Freeway. It airs in the Houston area on Yahoo! Sports Radio 1560 AM, and around the world on RiceOwls.com. Coach Graham will review games from the previous weekend and preview upcoming series. In addition to discussions on college baseball's national rankings and chase for the C-USA championship, each week's show will include current members of the team, former Owl players and special guests. Fans will have a chance to interact via Twitter and can now catch the game on their phone by downloading the "Tune In" app. The show is a unique opportunity for baseball enthusiasts to get direct insight from one of the college game's most successful icons who was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame and who has more than 1,000 Division I wins.

Possible Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham announced Rice's probable pitchers for the Middle Tennessee series as right-hander Jon Duplantier (2-2, 2.57),  left-hander Blake Fox (1-4, 3.05), and sophomore right-hander Ricardo Salinas (3-1, 5.01), respectively
• Veteran Jon Duplantier has been sound and solid in his six starts this season, working at least 6.0 innings in each outing for a team-leading total of 42.0 frames. The Katy, Texas, native averages an eye-opening 10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings with a 3.6-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He's faced three nationally-ranked teams in Arizona, Arkansas and East Carolina, was sensational in a Mar. 4 outing vs. UCF, and then even better last week against Old Dominion. Against UCF Duplantier allowed just one hit in 8.0 innings and struck out 14. He was named both the C-USA Pitcher of the Week and National Pitcher of the Week according to CollegeSportsMadness.com. He picked up the league pitching honor a second time against ODU with his first complete game, a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts and no earned runs. No matter if the 6-foot-4 right-hander is pitching at home, away, or at a neutral site, there are always a host of MLB scouts tracking his every pitch.
• Senior Blake Fox has pitched well in each of his six starts. He's maintained a 3.05 ERA and held opponents to a composite .225 batting average in 6.1 innings per start. His most-recent appearance against Old Dominion was his best-yet, allowing just one earned run in a season-long 7.2 innings with six strikeouts. A closer look reveals that in his five starts his offensive teammates have supported him with only a .208 batting average and just 2.8 runs per game. For his collegiate career, Fox is 27-6 with a 2.54 ERA in 259.0 collegiate innings. The Houston native is the Rice's active leader in career appearances (56), starts (38) and strikeouts (177).
Ricardo Salinas has grown into his role as a weekend starter, particularly the last three weekends. In his last three starts (all on Sundays vs. East Carolina, UTSA and Old Dominion) the Houston native is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. He posted a new career-long outing with 8.0 innings against No. 16 ranked East Carolina, earning C-USA Pitcher of the Week honors. Salinas most-recently registered a new career-high in strikeouts in his last start against ODU. A closer look at his early opponents is also in order. The sophomore right-hander's first start was against national Pac-12 powerhouse Arizona, followed by a weekend start against (then) No. 13 ranked TCU. In his time at Rice, Salinas is 6-3 with 11 starts in his collegiate career.

Duplantier & Warren Sweep C-USA Weekly Awards
IRVING, Texas - The Rice duo of Jon Duplantier and Charlie Warren have been named the respective Conference USA Pitcher and Hitter of the Week for Mar. 21-27, the league office announced Monday (Mar. 28) from its headquarters in Irving, Texas... After posting a 4-0 week that included a win at No. 16 Houston and a sweep of an Old Dominion team that came into the weekend in first place in the conference standings, Rice has swept the weekly league baseball awards. Duplantier registered 11 strikeouts in a complete game three-hitter to help the Owls defeat C-USA foe Old Dominion on Friday night, 3-1, ending the Monarchs' seven-game winning streak. He held the 29 batters he faced to just three singles for a composite .103 average. Duplantier allowed one walk and the lone run he surrendered was unearned after an Owl fielding error in the top of the second inning. The Katy, Texas, native improved to 2-2 and lowered his season ERA to 2.57 while earning his second Pitcher of the Week award this month... Warren meanwhile went a combined 11-for-16 at the plate (.688) with five runs scored and four RBI. He added a double to give him a .750 slugging percentage and drew two walks for a .722 on-base average. On Tuesday at crosstown rival Houston, Warren went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI to help defeat the No. 16 Cougars. In Friday's C-USA opener against ODU, The Woodlands, Texas native had a hit and a walk to score two of the Owls' three runs. Warren had his second four-hit game of the week with a run and RBI Saturday against ODU. On Sunday he went 2-for-4 with a walk, run and RBI. Warren's offense was only part of the story, however. In Saturday's game against ODU he threw out a runner at home plate from his spot in right field.

Here's Who's Hot
In the last two games senior Connor Teykl is 5-for-7 (.714) with two runs scored, an RBI and a sacrifice fly... Versatile sophomore Dane Myers has continued a solid stretch where he is 7-for-17 (.412) with his first career home run and a double for a .647 slugging percentage. Myers has also driven-in five runs, scored five times, had a sac fly and stole a base in the Owls' last five games... True freshman Ford Proctor is 5-for-13 with two doubles for a .538 slugging percentage. He also has two walks and was hit by a pitch for a .500 on-base percentage... If you're only as good as your last outing, two Owls had nice games to help Rice beat Sam Houston State: sophomore Ryan Chandler was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, and freshman Dominic DiCaprio was 2-for-3 with two RBI.

Previous Game: Rice Defeats Sam Houston State Tuesday, 5-3
HOUSTON - Rice used a four-run fifth inning to take the lead, and then held-off a series of challenges from visiting Sam Houston State to claim a 5-3 victory over the Bearkats Tuesday evening at Reckling Park in Houston... The Owls broke a 1-1 deadlock with four runs on three hits and three Sam Houston fielding errors in the bottom of the fifth inning. Dayne Wunderlich drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Ford Proctor's one-out single to left-center. Both runners hustled for two stations and the Rice lead, 2-1, after the Bearkats dropped Dane Myers' fly ball in the outfield. Freshman Dominic DiCaprio then punched a base hit through the left side to score Proctor from third, but Rice wasn't finished... Grayson Lewis reached first on a fielder's choice with Myers taking third, but another Sam Houston error on the same play allowed Myers to score and make it 4-1. Rice added its final run on another Bearkat miscue to stretch the margin to 5-1... Sam Houston battled back for a run in the sixth and the another seventh to pull back within two, 5-3. The Bearkats still had the bases-loaded with two away in the seventh, but the Owls brought Myers in from his defensive spot at third base to pitch. He calmly got a ground ball where Lewis was able to step on second base to end the threat... The Bearkats then attempted another rally in the top of the eighth. Two batters were hit by pitches and both men advanced into scoring position (with the potential go-ahead run in the batter's box) before Myers ended the inning with a dramatic strikeout. The right-hander from Katy, Texas, had a quick 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the 5-3 final and earn his second save of the season... Rice starting pitcher Willy Amador improved to 2-0 by working a career-long 5.0 innings and tying a career-high with five strikeouts. The freshman duo of Evan Kravetz and Kendal Jefferies saw action on the mound before Myers pitched the final 2.0 frames. Myers the hitter also went 1-for-3 at the plate and scored two of the Owls' five runs. Senior Connor Teykl led all players with three hits as the Blue & Gray finished the night with nine overall... The Owls improved to 15-9 on the season with the team's sixth-straight win. Sam Houston is 13-13 and saw its seven-game win-streak snapped.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2016 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
5-3 in all-white
4-4 in pinstripes
3-1 in gray `birds' tops
2-1 in blue tops with pinstripe pants
1-0 in blue tops with white pants

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 196-62 (.760).

Conference Titles Streak Now At 20-Straight
Rice's streak of consecutive conference titles is 20-straight years (just one behind its NCAA streak)... The Owls have won or shared a total of 20-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 ten C-USA titles in as many years. The Owls won the 2015 C-USA regular season title by a comfortable 2.5-game margin. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 20 years:
Year    Conf.    Regular Season    Conf. Tourney
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

Did You Know? Part I
Jon Duplantier's 14 strikeouts against UCF was the most by an Owl in a single game since Eddie Degerman fanned 14 against Baylor in an NCAA Regional in 2006. Between the Degerman and Duplantier games, there were three Owls to post 13 strikeouts in a game: Ryan Berry vs. Southern Miss in 2008, Matthew Reckling vs. Grambling in 2012, and Austin Kubitza vs. Hawaii in 2013. The last time an Owl had 15 strikeouts in a game was Joe Savery vs. Fresno State on April 30, 2005. The most before that was Degerman with 16 vs. Louisiana Tech on April 9, 2005, to tie for the third-highest single-game total in Rice history.

Did You Know? Part II
In the series finale vs. national power Arizona (Feb. 21), sophomore Dane Myers had two triples in the 4-3 Rice win. The last Owl to do that eventual major leaguer Josh Rodriguez vs. Miami-Ohio in 2004. Rice had two triples in a 2013 win vs. Marshall.

Rice Baseball Returns To Radio Airwaves
Rice baseball will return to the broadcast airwaves for 14 games in 2016 as part of an agreement between Rice IMG Sports Properties and ESPN Deportes Houston (1180 am). The 14 games marks the second-consecutive season that Rice Baseball has been available on radio in the Houston area. The slate of games began on Feb. 24 and continues into May. The 14 broadcasts feature 11 home games and all three games played at Minute Maid Park. The upcoming radio games are among the Owls' biggest non-conference games of the season, including national power Texas A&M (April 5) and crosstown foe Houston (May 10). Be sure and listen to 1180 AM for C-USA games vs. Western Kentucky (April 17), Charlotte (full series) and Florida Atlantic (full series) in the weeks ahead.

Two More Games Picked Up By TV, Total Now Five Overall
Two more Rice baseball games have been selected for a television broadcast for the upcoming 2016 season under the FOX Sports banner. The Owls' April 22 contest at C-USA foe Southern Miss is now a TV game. The second selection is the May 13 home game vs. Florida Atlantic. Note the start time for both is now 7 pm due to the respective broadcasts on Fox Sports 2... The Owls also had three College Classic games televised by ROOT Sports.

National Postseason Streak At 21-Straight
Rice baseball's 21-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation's fourth-longest active streak. In 2015 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 43rd-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (38) and Cal State Fullerton (24). Rice's 21-straight NCAA Tournament bids is also now tied for the fourth-longest postseason streak in Division I baseball history (after Clemson saw its 21-year regional streak snapped in 2008).

Owls Ink Nine In Early Signing Period
The Rice baseball program has signed nine high school standouts in the early period who will join the team for the 2017 season. The list of newest Owls includes Matt Canterino, Garrett Gayle, Brad Gneiting, Addison Moss, Mackenzie Mueller, Sean Reynolds, Chace Sarchet, Nick Silber, and Zach Wright. The group consists of three multi-position players who are versatile enough to contribute as both a pitcher and position player/hitter. Four are pitchers (only) and there are two outfielders. Eight are from the high school ranks. Seven are from Texas and three are from the greater Houston area.

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 17 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999-2015 (this listing do not include games played in 2016):
Team              Years   Wins  Loses  Ties    PCT
Florida St.          17    835    299    1    .736
Rice                 17    799    302    0    .726
North Carolina       17    763    325    1    .701
South Carolina       17    780    337    0    .698
Cal St. Fullerton    17    739    324    0    .695
LSU                  17    762    333    6    .695
Miami (FL)           17    732    330    3    .689
Texas                17    747    341    1    .686
Coastal Caro.        17    714    331    0    .683
Oral Roberts         17    695    323    0    .683
Arizona St.          17    672    312    2    .683
Georgia Tech         17    708    352    1    .668
Virginia             17    684    355    3    .658
Nebraska             17    666    365    2    .646
Clemson              17    709    392    1    .644
Col.of Charleston    17    645    361    1    .641
East Carolina        17    659    369    3    .641
TCU                  17    667    375    0    .640
Stanford             17    659    372    2    .639
Florida Atlantic     17    651    370    1    .637
Oregon St.           17    624    356    1    .637
Florida              17    685    391    2    .636
Tulane               17    658    377    2    .635
Oklahoma St.         17    651    375    0    .635
Texas A&M            17    669    392    3    .630
Louisville           17    654    386    1    .629
Wichita St.          17    660    390    0    .629
Kent St.             17    631    373    0    .628
Notre Dame           17    633    376    5    .627
Southern             17    494    295    0    .626
Vanderbilt           17    658    395    0    .625
Ohio St.             17    622    379    1    .621
UL-Lafayette         17    646    395    1    .620
Southern Miss.       17    636    390    1    .620

 

 

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