Baseball Hosts Middle Tennessee This Weekend In Key C-USA Series

April 2, 2015

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PDF of Rice's latest pregame release

April 3 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; Middle Tennessee at Rice
Military Appreciation Night - Wear your red, white, and blue and join us as we support all who have served and helped protect our country!
Recent Alumni Special - The Association of Rice Alumni and Rice Athletics invite recent alums to attend our Recent Alumni Happy Hour at Reckling Park. Join us at every Friday home game to enjoy Rice Baseball with fellow alums. The Happy Hour package includes your ticket to the game and a wristband for discounted beverage purchases in The Roost all evening long. For more information, call (713) 348-6930.
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The Last Meeting
Middle Tennessee State2
Rice8
May 22, 2014
Hattiesburg, Miss.
Owls Advance in Winner's Bracket Game with 8-2 Victory Over Middle Tennessee
The Owl bats came alive in the middle innings and sophomore starter Blake Fox was again in cruise control for an 8-2 victory over Middle Tennessee on Day two of the C-USA Baseball Championship Thursday in Hattiesburg, Miss.


April 4 (Sat.) 2 pm; Middle Tennessee at Rice
Kids Take Over Tbe Ballpark - Presented by Houston Methodist, Owls Kids Club members will have the opportunity to work with Rice staff members in various game day roles including PA announcer, grounds crew, ticket takers and more. This is an exclusive benefit for Rice Owls Kids Club members. To join click here!
Post Game Egg Hunt - Purchase an Egg Hunt package and your little one will be able to take home as many eggs as they can find following the game! (Limited spots available). Call the marketing office for details at (713) 348-6930!
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April 5 (Sun.) 1 pm; Middle Tennessee at Rice
Fellowship Day - Have something at home that could help out someone in need? Bring an item out to Reckling Park and donate to the Salvation Army for Fellowship Day.
Methodist Trading Card Strip No. 4 - The first 750 fans will receive strip No. 4 of Rice Baseball Trading Cards, courtesy of Methodist!
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The Rice baseball team, 20-11 overall and 9-3 in Conference USA action, returns home to Reckling Park for a three-game C-USA weekend series vs. Middle Tennessee April 3-5. The showdown features the two teams currently atop the C-USA standings. The Blue Raiders lead the league with an 8-1 conference record, just a half-game in front of second place Rice. Game times are 6:30 pm on Friday, 2 pm on Saturday and 1 pm on Sunday.

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

Watch The Home Games On OwlVision All Access
This weekend's C-USA series is slated for a live on-line video broadcast by OwlVision All Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like broadcast on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). Information about the service and subscription prices are available at RiceOwls.com.

Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season 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. Fans attending home games can listen to the Rice broadcast at Reckling Park via an FM proximity transmitter. The FM frequencies for the in-stadium broadcasts at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM. J.P. Heath is back for his seventh season as the regular voice of the Owls. The veteran broadcaster has the call for this weekend's action at Reckling Park.

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, the baseball schedule page.

98th Season On The Baseball Diamond
Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2015 season is, however, only the Owls' 99th season playing on the diamond. The school cancelled its baseball season in 1919 and did not field a team for three years (1933-35) during the Great Depression. Rice returned to the diamond in the spring of 1936 and has been playing ever since. The Rice baseball program's all-time record is 1,966 - 1,539 - 9.

National Rankings Update · Owls Hold Top 20 Spots
Rice baseball is respected enough to hold a Top 20 national ranking in a host of different college baseball polls. The Owls are No. 14 in three polls, and in the Top 20 of six overall. Here's a closer look at some of the latest national rankings, and changes from last week (as available at press time):
Poll Current Previous
College Sports Madness 12 11
NCBWA 14 14
D1Baseball.com 14 14
Baseball America 14 14
USA Today/ESPN 15 15
CollegeBaseballDaily.com 16 15
Collegiate Baseball Magazine nr nr
PerfectGame.com nr nr

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

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 24th season at Rice. The 2015 campaign marks his 35th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,059-431 with the Owls (633-159 at home, 329-211 on the road and 97-61 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .711, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .711 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 115 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this weekend's opponent is: 2-2 vs. Middle Tennessee... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2014, making 20-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship... Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11, `13 and `14... Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `11... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... One of the few current collegiate coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; tenth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; fourth year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; third year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.

1,634 Wins · A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,059 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,634 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,634-544 in a 33-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 Conference USA championship, each week's show will include current members of the team, former Owl players and special guests. There will be some Rice give-away items at the show and fans will have a chance to interact via Twitter. 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.

Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham announced Rice's probable starting pitchers for the Middle Tennessee series as junior right-hander Kevin McCanna (3-2, 3.46) on Friday, followed by junior left-hander Blake Fox (3-0, 3.96) on Saturday. Coach Graham will name Sunday's starter at a later time.
· Kevin McCanna is a veteran with 40 appearances in his collegiate career, including 24 starting assignments. In six starts this year facing the Friday night pitchers from Texas, Arizona, Stanford, Southern Miss, Old Dominion Charlotte and LA Tech, McCanna owns a 3.46 ERA in 39.0 innings of work. He has held opposing batters to a composite .272 average with 8.3 strikeouts per 9.0 innings, and maintained a 2.8-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Last week vs. Southern Miss may have been his best outing of the year as he tied a career-best with eight strikeouts in a season-long 7.0 innings... A year ago McCanna finished second on the team, and eighth in Conference USA, in both victories (8) and innings pitched (93.2). He pitched into the seventh inning in 7-of-12 starts, with one of the early departures at 6.0 innings vs. Purdue after the Owls had built a comfortable 20-3 lead. The Woodlands, Texas, native averaged 6.2 innings and held opponents to a .247 batting average as a starter. McCanna also averaged a 6.3 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and maintained a 2.7-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He began 2014 as the "Sunday" pitcher in the weekend rotation (in addition to four relief appearances and one midweek start), before being promoted to a new "Friday night" role for the remainder of the year. McCanna thrived as the series-opening pitcher, winning 5-of-7 outings while maintaining a steady 1.76 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP in 51.0 innings. He was the opening pitcher in the C-USA Tournament and held heavy-hitting FIU to a pair of runs over 7.1 innings. The righty then returned just four days later to pitch another 4.0 frames in relief in the Championship Final against a UTSA squad that defeated him in the regular season. The former TWHS Highlander had a good case to be named to the league's all-tournament team, going 2-0 with a composite 2.38 ERA for 11.1 total innings (but was so quietly effective that he was overlooked by the voting attending members of the media). McCanna started the Owls' opening game of the NCAA Regional against Atlantic 10 Conference champion George Mason, where he allowed just one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts over 7.1 innings in a no-decision. He fired a complete game, 9.0 inning shutout in the opener of a key C-USA series against league runner-up UAB, propelling his team to a three-game sweep of the Blazers. It's worth noting that with the sweep the Owls went on to win the C-USA regular season crown over that same UAB team by exactly three games. It's equally notable the 9-inning gem was not McCanna's longest outing of the season. Rice has had dozens and dozens of complete games pitched the last few years, but in a March 8 (2014) start against eventual NCAA Tournament-bound Old Dominion, McCanna went 9.1 innings for the longest outing by an Owl pitcher in more than a decade.
· A host of news organizations have a preseason All-America team leading up to the 2015 campaign, and Blake Fox was on just about every one of them. In seven starts this year Fox is 3-0 and averaging more than 5.1 innings per outing... The Owls' junior left-hander is undefeated in his Rice career, posting a perfect 21-0 record in a total of 42 appearances dating back to his freshman season of 2013. One of three finalists for the 2014 National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Hall of Fame, Fox responded to his new 2014 role in the weekend rotation with aplomb - winning 12-of-15 "Saturday starts" while maintaining a steady 1.46 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He was the first Owl to win 12 games in a single season since 2006. The former prep standout from nearby Episcopal HS finished fifth in the nation, and led C-USA, in victories. Fox was 13th in Division I, and second in the league, in ERA. Fox also ranked among the C-USA leaders in starts (third, 15), hits-per-9 innings (9th, 7.57), strikeouts (11th, 69) and WHIP (11th). His wins were over eventual College World Series participant TCU at Minute Maid Park, nationally ranked Stanford and FIU on the road, Southern Miss, East Carolina, UTSA, FAU, Tulane, LA Tech, Purdue and Middle Tennessee (twice). He pitched into the seventh inning in 14-of-15 starts, with the lone exception being 5.1 innings against Purdue where the Owls had already built a 7-1 advantage by the 6th (and went on to win 9-1). Fox went a career-long 8.1 innings on the road at Tulane where he tied a career-best with eight strikeouts. He held all opponents to a .236 batting average and maintained a 2.6-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. In a preseason poll of the 12 C-USA head coaches, Fox was named the 2015 C-USA Pitcher of Year. Pitching was only part of the story, however. Fox is a versatile enough athlete that in 2014 he made seven additional appearances either as a first baseman, designated hitter or pinch hitter (against right-handed pitching).



 

 

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