Owls Host UCF Friday To Begin Five-Game Homestand

April 11, 2013

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The Last Meeting
May 19, 2012
Orlando, Fla.
Owls Claim C-USA Regular Season Title Saturday With 5-2 Win At UCF
The Rice baseball team struck for an early lead and had some sound and solid mound work to defeat C-USA foe UCF 5-2 in the final game of a weekend series Saturday afternoon on the road in Orlando, Fla. With the victory Rice won the conference's regular season championship on the last day of league play and extended its streak of winning conference championships to 17-straight years dating back to 1996.

Apr. 12 (Fri.) 6:36 pm; UCF at Rice (Game televised on Fox College Sports)
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Apr. 13 (Sat.) 2 pm; UCF at Rice
Watch the game on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Apr. 14 (Sun.) 1 pm; UCF Rice
Watch the game on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)

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

Owls Open Five-Game Homestand with C-USA Foe UCF
The Rice baseball team, 24-11 overall and ranked as high as No. 14 in the country, opens a five-game homestand with a return to Conference USA league play on Friday (April 12). The Owls (6-3 in C-USA) host the UCF Knights (18-16 overall, 4-5 C-USA) for three games thru Sunday (Apr. 14). Start times at Reckling Park are set for 6:36 pm on Friday, 2 pm on Saturday, and 1 pm in Sunday's series finale. All times listed are Central Time... The Owls continue the homestand thru April 17 with two midweek games against longtime state rival Texas Tech.



It's Prime T.V. Time Friday on Fox College Sports
As if a Friday night home matchup between Rice and UCF wasn't already big enough, the contest with the Knights has been selected for a TV broadcast. Fox College Sports , a broadcasting leader in televising collegiate competitions across the country, is bringing the rematch of last year's top two C-USA teams to the nation. Broadcasters Daron Sutton (play-by-play) and former major leaguer Preston wilson (commentary) have the TV call Friday night from Reckling Park.

Watch C-USA Games On OwlVision All Access
Most 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
Baseball America 14 18
PerfectGame.com 15 18
NCBWA 18 21
College Sports Madness 18 19
USA Today/ESPN 20 22
Collegiate Baseball Magazine 21 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 1,884 - 1,500- 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 977-391 with the Owls (587-141 at home, 299-193 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 opponent is as follows: 20-7 vs. UCF (8-4 home, 9-3 road, 3-0 neutral)... 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.

1,551 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 977 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,551 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,551-504 in a 32-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Here's Who's Hot
Not only is senior Michael Ratterree 7-for-14 (.500) over his last five games, he's also drawn eight walks for a .625 on-base percentage. The Houston native has driven-in five runs and scored five times in the last five games, and he's also had two stolen bases, two sacrifice flies and one sac bunt... It's been two pretty good games for junior designated hitter Michael Aquino at East Carolina on Sunday and then Lamar on Tuesday. Aquino has gone 5-for-10 overall with three doubles and a triple for a 1.000 slugging percentage. He also has four RBI and three runs scored in the back-to-back wins... Senior Christian Stringer is 9-for-24 (.375) with three walks for a .444 on-base percentage. He also has a double and a team-high six runs scored. In the April 1 win over Texas State Stringer knocked-in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Previous Outing: Rice Holds On For 8-7 Win Tuesday at Lamar
BEAUMONT, Tex. - The Rice baseball overcame a 24-win Lamar squad on the road, as well as a 19-mph swirling wind and 72-minute lightning delay, for a late 9-8 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday evening at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont, Tex.... The Owls had to rally in the ninth inning for their 24th win of the season in the finale of a rugged four-game road stretch. Michael Aquino led off with a double to the left field corner for his third hit of the game. He raced to third on Keenan Cook's fly ball to right and took another 90 feet for the go-ahead run on Michael Ratterree's sacrifice fly to break the deadlock, 9-8... At the outset it didn't look as though the game would be that close. The Blue & Gray had actually built an 8-1 margin early in the contest, only to watch a veteran Lamar team battle back to tie the score inning-by-inning - all after officials halted the game for more than an hour in the bottom of the third due to lightning... The wind meanwhile, which had stadium flags that were only a few yards from each other blowing in different directions, also played havoc on the defenses for both teams. Rice quickly jumped on the scoreboard for four runs in the top of the first and another two more in the second, all on a total of just two base hits... Both of Rice's first two hitters, Leon Byrd and Christian Stringer, drew walks. Aquino hit a one-out triple to left field to score both men but the Blue & Gray weren't finished. Two Cardinal fielding errors helped plate two more... The Owls turned some alertness and hustle into two more runs in the second inning. With two away Stringer struck out, but the ball got away and the senior dashed down to first base. He went to second on a wild pitch, and then advanced two stations when Ford Stainback reached on a fielding error. Stainback went to third on Aquino's second base hit of the night and scored on a wild pitch... Ratterree led off the third with a single and Shane Hoelscher was hit by a pitch. Both advanced to scoring position on Skyler Ewing's sacrifice bunt. Ratterree scored on a Lamar passed ball and Hoelscher scored easily on Hunter Kopycinski's single up the middle... Freshman Blake Fox made his first collegiate start on the mound for Rice. The Houston native allowed four runs in a career-long 3.1 innings. In the middle of his outing he endured the 72-minute weather delay. The Cardinals scored a run in the first and third before a four-run fourth (which was after play was halted) to make the score 8-6... Lamar added two more runs to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, 8-8. Both were unearned after an earlier Owl error would have ended the rally... The Owls went to another freshman pitcher, Kevin McCanna, who looked sharp to keep the Cards off the scoreboard for the final 2.1 frames. McCanna did not allow any hits or walks on the way to the second win of his collegiate career... Rice improved to 24-11 on the season. Lamar is now 24-10 overall.

Rice 12th In Average Home Attendance
Through 17 home games Rice has averaged close to 3,300 fans at 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 10,750
2. Arkansas 7,761
3. Ole Miss 7,585
4. South Carolina 7,22
8 5. Mississippi State 6,946
6. Texas 5,876
7. Clemson 4,701
8. Texas A&M 4,469
9. Florida State 4,411
10. Florida 3,472
11. TCU 3,460
12. Rice 3,278

Rice Also 18th In Total Home Attendance
Rice baseball has drawn more than 55,700 fans for 17 home games. That's also the 18th 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)
1. Rice
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)

Christian Stringer, Rice (Senior, Infielder)

Austin Kubitza, Rice (Junior, Right-hander)

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, 4-2 in the pinstripes, 6-3 in all-gray, 4-1 in blue tops with white pants and 1-1 in blue tops with gray pants.



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