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Owls Open Road Swing Friday Night at East Carolina

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April 3, 2013

LISTEN to all Rice games via the Internet audio home page
PDF of Rice's latest pregame release

Apr. 5 (Fri.) 5 pm; Rice at East Carolina
Watch the game on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Apr. 6 (Sat.) 1 pm; Rice at East Carolina
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GameTracker (activates at game time)

Apr. 7 (Sun.) 9 am; Rice at East Carolina
Watch the game on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Apr. 9 (Tues.) 6:30 pm; Rice at Lamar
GameTracker (activates at game time)

All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.

Owls Open Road Swing with C-USA Series at East Carolina
The Rice baseball team, 21-10 overall and ranked as high as No. 18 in the country, opens a four-game road swing with a return to Conference USA league play on Friday (April 5). The Owls (4-2 in C-USA) visit the East Carolina Pirates (14-15 overall, 0-3 C-USA) for three games thru Sunday (Apr. 7). Start times at Clark-LeClaire Stadium in Greenville, N.C., are set for 5 pm on Friday, 1 pm on Saturday, and 9 am in Sunday's series finale. All times listed are Central Time... The Owls wrap-up the brief four-game road swing on Tuesday, April 9, against longtime foe Lamar. Start time against the Cardinals is 6:30 pm in Beaumont, Tex.

 

 

Watch C-USA Games On OwlVision All Access
All C-USA games, and Reckling Park home 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 RiceOwls.com. Use the above link to access the Internet audio page. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games, home or away, can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The FM frequencies for the in-stadium broadcasts at Reckling Park will be 99.7 FM. Proximity broadcasts for away games will be announced prior to that game. J.P. Heath returns as the voice of the Owls this season. For some selected home games he will be joined in the Rice broadcast booth by either 2003 national champion letterman Enrique Cruz or Jimmy Baseball, aka letterman and "R" Association Director Jimmy Comerota.

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.

National Ranking Update • In The Top 25 of Five Different Polls
The Owls are represented in a host of different polls across the country. Here's a closer look at the latest national rankings:

Poll This Week Last Week
PerfectGame.com 18 17
Baseball America 18 18
College Sports Madness 19 17
NCBWA 21 20
USA Today/ESPN 22 20
Collegiate Baseball Magazine 28 28

Rice Baseball's 97th Season On The Field
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 2013 season is, however, only the Owls' 97th 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 1,881 - 1,499- 9.

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 22nd season at Rice. The 2013 campaign marks his 33rd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 974-390 with the Owls (587-141 at home, 296-192 in road games and 91-57 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .714, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .714 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 opponents is as follows: 19-5 vs. East Carolina (10-2 home, 8-2 road, 1-1 neutral); 29-16 vs. Lamar (18-8 home, 11-8 road)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2012, making 18-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. 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 and 2012 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, `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; eighth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; second year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; first year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepperd coaches at first base.

1,548 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 974 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,548 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,548-503 in a 32-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Here's Who's Hot
It's been a pretty good stretch of recent games for Rice's junior (offensive) duo from College Park High School in The Woodlands, Tex., Michael Aquino and Keenan Cook. Over his last seven games Cook is 13-for-26 (.500) with two doubles, six runs scored and a pair of stolen bases... Aquino is now 11-for-his-last-24 (.458) with a double and six runs scored. That's just the offensive side of Rice's College Park H.S. connection. On Monday, April 1, former Cavalier John Simms fired 4.2 scoreless innings against Texas State while striking out five... Not only is sophomore shortstop Ford Stainback batting .429 (6-for-14) over the last four games, he's also drawn five walks for a .579 on-base percentage to go along with two stolen bases. On the defensive side Stainback has started or turned four of the team's five double plays in the last four games... Freshman Leon Byrd is officially 3-for-his-last-16 (.188), but the rookie centerfielder and leadoff batter deserves a closer look. Over the last six games Byrd has also drawn nine walks and been hit by a pitch three times for an eye-opening .536 on-base percentage. In this stretch he's also had three sacrifice bunts... If you're only as good as your last game, senior Michael Ratterree went 2-for-3 in the Texas State win while drawing two walks and scoring twice. If you're only as good as your last at bat, senior Christian Stringer had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th inning to complete a 3-for-7 night (.429).

Previous Outing: Rice Rallies For Win 4-3 Monday Against Texas State
HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team rallied for the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning and scored the game-winner on Christian Stringer's hit in the 12th for a 4-3 victory over visiting Texas State Monday night at Reckling Park in Houston... Down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Rice started the late rally with a leadoff single from designated hitter Michael Aquino. Keenan Cook's sacrifice bunt was enough to move Aquino in to scoring position, but a Texas State fielding error on the play not only allowed Cook to reach safely, but for both men to advance an extra 90 feet up to second and third. Texas State elected to load the bases with one-away to set up a force-play, but the Bobcats still had to be careful with hot-hitting sophomore Skyler Ewing at the plate. Ewing drew a walk on a full count to force-in the tying run, 3-3... Texas State was able to avoid further damage in the ninth, but Rice was back on the offensive in the bottom of the 12th. Michael Ratterree led off with a single to right and Ewing was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. The Bobcats were able to get a pair of outs to bring up Stringer, who had already had a pair of hits in the contest. The veteran from Longview, Tex., lined a pitch to centerfield allowing Ratterree to score easily from second base without a throw. The Owls had completed the comeback in extra-innings for a 4-3 final... Rice head coach Wayne Graham liked the final result, and he had a hunch his senior second baseman would deliver... "I knew Christian would come-through," coach Graham said. "There wasn't any doubt about that, and he was exactly the guy I wanted up to bat in that situation. Earlier in the game he had an opportunity and left some men on base. I was certain he wasn't going to let that happen again in the same game. He's tough enough not to let any earlier at bats in a game get to him the next time. He did a nice job of hitting and won the game for his teammates." ... Stringer was one of three Owls, including the College Park High School duo of Aquino and Cook, to finish the game with three hits. The Blue & Gray collected a total of 13 hits in the game, the 13th time this season (and fifth in the last six games) for the team to post double-digit hits... Rice was quick to hit and score. Cook singled-home Stringer with two-away for the first run in the bottom of the first inning. Ratterree led off the second with a base hit and stole second before scoring on Connor Teykl's RBI single to make it 2-0... Texas State came right back to take the lead with a three-run third on just two hits. The big blow was a two-out bases-loaded double to right by Garrett Mattlage that put the Bobcats in front 3-2... Rice junior right-hander Chase McDowell started on the mound and allowed just two hits in 5.1 innings. Junior John Simms struck out five while working 4.2 scoreless frames out of the bullpen. Freshman Blake Fox pitched the final two scoreless innings and earned his third win of season as the offense staged its game-winning rally... The Owls improved to 21-10 on the season with the team's fourth win in extra innings. Texas State dropped to 12-16 overall.

Extra-Tough In Extras
Rice has won all of four its games that have gone into extra innings. A year ago the Owls won four-of-six extra inning games.

Rice 12th In Average Home Attendance
Through 16 home games Rice has averaged close to 3,300 fans to Reckling Park. The Owls are 12th in the nation in average home attendance. Here are the latest national attendance leaders (by home average).
1. LSU 10,713
2. Arkansas 7,667
3. Ole Miss 7,264
4. South Carolina 7,181
5. Mississippi State 6,765
6. Texas 5,763
7. Clemson 4,711
8. Texas A&M 4,439
9. Florida State 4,354
10. TCU 3,563
11. Florida 3,482
12. Rice 3,292

Rice Also 15th In Total Home Attendance
Rice baseball has drawn more than 52,700 fans for 16 home games. That's also the 15th highest attendance total in the country.

Postseason Streak At 18-Straight, Looking For 19
The Rice baseball program's 18-straight appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship is the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) has made the field for the 40 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (35) and Cal State Fullerton (21). Rice's 18-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is the sixth-longest national postseason streak in Division I history.

Conference Championship Streak At 17-Straight
Rice has won or shared a total of 17-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and seven Conference USA titles in as many years... In 2012 Rice won the C-USA regular season championship on the last day of the league's 24-game schedule. The Owls and UCF were tied for first in the C-USA standings heading into the final game of the season. The Blue & Gray clipped the Knights 5-2 to welcome the program's 17th championship to the family.

18-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice has clinched 18-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 41 wins in 17 of the last 18 years.

Six TV Games Later This Season
HOUSTON - Four additional Rice baseball home games have been picked up for a television broadcast by Fox College Sports, the Rice Athletics Department announced, bringing remaining season total TV games to six... Fox College Sports (FCN), a leader in televising some of the nation's top collegiate events, added Rice baseball games vs. UCF, Texas Tech, Memphis and Marshall to its spring broadcast slate. All are Owl home games at Reckling Park, a venue that hosted no less than eight nationally-televised games last season. There will be no significant changes to the start time for any of the four games on FCN... Rice baseball has already a number of its games on TV this season. All three games from the Astros Foundation Classic at Minute Maid Park were televised taped-delayed. In February three of the Owls' games played at Hawaii were televised lived throughout the 50th state. The Conference USA opener against Tulane, and an upcoming one against Houston, are on Fox Sports Net. Rice's six TV games are as follows:
March 28 (Thur.) Fox Sports Net; (Rice def. Tulane 4-2)
April 12 (Fri.) UCF at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports
April 16 (Tue.) Texas Tech at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports
April 20 (Sat.) Rice at Houston, 12:30 pm - Fox Sports Net
May 10 (Fri.) Memphis at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports
May 16 (Thur.) Marshall at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports

Kubitza & Stringer Garner National Preseason Honors
WICHITA, Kan. - The veteran Rice duo of junior Austin Kubitza and senior Christian Stringer have been tabbed as 2013 preseason All-America selections by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association of America (NCBWA), the organization announced from its headquarters in Wichita Kan... Kubitza and Stringer were both named to the NCBWA's preseason All-America second team as a starting pitcher and second baseman, respectively. The Owl duo helped Rice go 41-19 last season, claim the Conference USA regular season championship and host an NCAA Regional at Reckling Park... In his first season of Division I baseball after transferring from Navarro College, Stringer took C-USA by storm. The junior second baseman batted a team-leading .343 in 59 starts, and he maintained a .389 average in C-USA league games. Stringer also led the team and ranked among the conference leaders in hits (81), runs (58) and on-base percentage (.448). The Longview, Tex., native was second in walks (38) and steals (6), but his defense might have made the biggest impact to the Owls. Stringer maintained a .978 fielding percentage at second base where he turned or started 35 of the Owls' 46 double plays... A year ago Kubitza finished with a 6-5 record and he was second on the staff in ERA (2.69), innings pitched (80.1) and strikeouts (73). The right-hander from Colleyville, Tex., shared the team lead in starts (15) and he held all opposing hitters to an austere .211 batting average. He was named the C-USA Freshman of the Year after his first Division I season in 2011.

The C-USA Favorites
IRVING, Tex. - With three preseason all-conference players, including the duo of junior Austin Kubitza and Christian Stringer as the 2013 Preseason Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively, 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... Stringer and Kubitza (season info provided above) are joined by fellow Owl Michael Ratterree on the preseason All-Conference USA team, giving Rice a league-high-tying three selections. Ratterree posted a .407 slugging percentage last season with 20 extra-base hits (13 doubles, one triple and six home runs). The local standout from Memorial High School drew a team-high 42 walks, giving him a .378 on-base percentage. He also drove in 33 runs and unselfishly moved to a new defensive position in the outfield to better-help the team... Under the direction of head coach Wayne Graham Rice returns four of the nine starters in the batting order and a host of veteran pitchers from a year ago. The Owls also have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring. •

2013 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS (as selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice
(7)
2. Southern Miss (1)
3. East Carolina
4. UCF
5. Tulane (1)
6. Memphis
7. Houston
8. UAB
9. Marshall
(first place votes in parentheses)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Christian Stringer, Rice (Senior, Infielder)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Austin Kubitza, Rice (Junior, Right-hander)

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
P Austin Kubitza, Jr., Rice
P Sam Moll, Jr. Memphis
P Andrew Pierce, Sr., Southern Miss
RP Bradley Roney, So., Southern Miss
C Ryan Breen, Sr. UCF
IF Garrett Cannizaro, Sr., Tulane
IF Brennan Middleton, Sr., Tulane
IF Jack Reinheimer, Jr., East Carolina
IF Christian Stringer, Sr., Rice
IF Chris Taladay, Sr., UCF
OF Landon Appling, Jr., Houston
OF Brandon Boudreaux, Sr., Tulane
OF Michael Ratterree, Sr., Rice
OF Mason Robbins, So., Southern Miss
DH/UT Drew Reynolds, Jr., East Carolina

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 14 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2012: (These totals do NOT include games played in 2013).
Team, Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
Florida State, 701-244-1 (.742)
Rice, 676-240-0 (.738)
Coastal Carolina, 615-253-0 (.709)
North Carolina, 635-262-1 (.708)
Oral Roberts, 599-249-0 (.706)
Texas, 644-269-1 (.705)
South Carolina, 661-281-0 (.702)
Arizona State, 567-244-1 (.699)
Cal State Fullerton, 615-265-0 (.699)
Miami, 601-269-3 (.690)
Wichita State, 633-301-0 (.678)
Georgia Tech, 589-281-1 (.677)
LSU, 605-294-5 (.672)
Stanford, 568-292-2 (.660)
Tulane, 570-295-2 (.659)
Nebraska, 562-291-2 (.658)
Clemson, 601-316-1 (.655)
East Carolina, 555-295-1 (.653)
Notre Dame, 542-298-5 (.644)
Florida, 564-320-2 (.638)

Five For The Show
The Owls' 2013 list of big-leaguers includes Lance Berkman (Rangers), Philip Humber (Astros), Paul Janish (Braves), Lucas Luetge (Mariners) and Jeff Niemann (Rays).

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 9-4 in its all-white uniforms, 4-3 in all-gray, 4-0 in blue tops with white pants and 4-2 in the pinstripes.

GAMEDAY CENTRAL
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