Baseball Hosts Western Kentucky In C-USA Weekend Series

April 14, 2016

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April 15 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; Western Kentucky at Rice
Guys Night Out - Bring your bros to the game! The Guys Night Out promotion includes a ticket, a beer, and a Rice koozie for one low price. Four packs are also available. Purchase the special packet here.
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April 16 (Sat.) NEW Double-header starting at 12 Noon; Western Kentucky at Rice
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Rice Owls Kids Club Day - Owls Kids Club members can receive a free ticket to this game with their membership. Enjoy inflatable, games and more in the Kids Zone. Click here for more information on the Owls Kids Club.
Giveaway Item - Get the fourth of five Rice trading card strips FREE on Sunday courtesy of Houston Methodist! The remaining trading card strips will be handed out at different games over the course of the year.
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The Rice baseball team, 21-11 overall and winners of 12 of the last 14 games to earn a No. 19 national ranking from Baseball America, returns to Conference USA league play April 15-17. Rice hosts Western Kentucky in a three-game C-USA weekend series at Reckling Park. Start times against the Hilltoppers are set for 6:30 pm Friday, 2 pm Saturday and 1 pm Sunday.

Game Day Parking
There have been a number of changes to baseball parking since Rice University began construction of the new Moody Center for the Arts adjacent to Reckling Park. 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 a host of other game day benefits are also available by supporting Rice student-athletes with a gift to the Owl Club.

Watch C-USA Games Online Via OwlVision All-Access
All C-USA league 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.

Rice Baseball Returns To Radio Airwaves
Sunday's game vs. Western Kentucky is scheduled for a live radio broadcast in the Houston area on ESPN Deportes Houston (1180 am). The Owls have 14 games on the radio in 2016 as part of an agreement between Rice IMG Sports Properties and ESPN Deportes Houston (1180 am). This is 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 WKU (April 17) and crosstown foe Houston (May 10). Be sure and listen to 1180 AM for C-USA games vs. Charlotte (full series) and Florida Atlantic (full series) in the weeks ahead.

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.

National Rankings Update • Owls Ranked As High As No. 19
Here's a closer look at some of the national rankings, as well as Rice's spot in that poll last week:
Organization     Current    Previous
Baseball America    19         25
D1Baseball.com      21         nr

NCAA RPI at No. 24
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 has the No. 24 RPI in the nation heading into this week. Rice is in fact the second-highest of three C-USA schools ranked in the current RPI top 25.

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 37th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,097-453 with the Owls (655-168 at home, 344-216 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 4-0 vs. Western Kentucky... 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.

1,672 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,097 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,672 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,672-566 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 fans 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 will announce Rice's starting pitchers for the Western Kentucky series at a later time. Here's an updated look at last week's starting pitchers for the home series vs. UAB (April 8-10).
• Veteran Jon Duplantier has been sound and solid in his eight starts this season, working at least 6.0 innings in each outing for a team-leading total of 56.1 frames. The Katy, Texas, native averages an eye-opening 10.9 strikeouts per 9.0 innings with a 3.3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He's faced three nationally-ranked teams in Arizona, Arkansas and East Carolina, was sensational vs. UCF (March 4), and then even better against C-USA foe Old Dominion (March 25). Against UCF Duplantier allowed just one hit in 8.0 innings while striking 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 his eight starts. He's maintained a 2.92 ERA and held opponents to a composite .232 batting average in 6.1 innings per start. He was particularly sharp in a recent appearance at Middle Tennessee, allowing no runs on six singles in 7.0 innings with five strikeouts. A closer look reveals that in his eight starts his offensive teammates have supported him with only a .193 batting average and just 2.5 runs per game. For his collegiate career, Fox is 28-7 with a 2.54 ERA in 273.0 collegiate innings. The Houston native is the Rice's active leader in career appearances (58), starts (40) and strikeouts (189).
Ricardo Salinas has grown into his role as a weekend starter, particularly the last five weekends. In his last five starts (all on Sundays vs. East Carolina, UTSA, Old Dominion, Middle Tennessee and UAB) the Houston native is 5-0 with an 0.97 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 37.0 innings. He posted a new career-long outing with a 9.0-inning complete game two-hit shutout last weekend vs. UAB. Earlier he was named the March 14 C-USA Pitcher of the Week with 8.0 shutout frames against No. 16 ranked East Carolina (March 13). Salinas registered a new career-high wtih nine strikeouts in his March 27 start against Old Dominion. 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 nationally-ranked TCU. In his time at Rice, Salinas is 8-3 overall with 13 starts in his collegiate career.

Baseball Program Hosts Toy Drive on Sunday
The Rice baseball team is hosting a toy drive for the Children's Assessment Center on Sunday, April 17. Fans are asked to bring unused and unopened toys of any kind to the game at Reckling Park... As an added bonus, for every toy that you bring you will be entered into a raffle where you would get the chance to win autographed baseballs from former Owl and MLB All-star Lance Berkman, MLB great Andy Pettitte and Wayne Graham. The more toys that you bring, the better your chances are at going home with one of these awesome prizes! If you are unable to go out and purchase toys to bring to the game, you can purchase raffle tickets or other items (such as a core 4 autographed baseball) at the ballpark. All proceeds will go toward the purchasing of more toys... So come out Sunday, and bring as many toys as you can. A single toy can go a long way in bringing joy to a child, and it could make a world of a difference. Donations will be taken inside the front gate from 12 noon until the 5th inning.

Here's Who's Hot
Senior catcher Hunter Kopycinski is 6-for-15 (.400) recently with five RBI, three runs scored, a double and a sacrifice bunt. He also has five walks for a .550 on-base percentage... Sophomore leftfielder Tristan Gray enters the weekend having gone 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, a run and two sac bunts.

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

Previous Game: Rice Tops Texas State Tuesday Night, 3-1
SAN MARCOS, Texas - Rice pitchers Willy Amador, Glenn Otto and Dane Myers combined to hold Texas State to one run on three hits in the baseball team's 3-1 road victory over Texas State Tuesday evening in San Marcos, Texas... Runs and hits for both team proved to be at a premium Tuesday. The Owls' pitching trio came up big, and the offense took advantage when a brief window of opportunity opened... Rice used some classic baseball to manufacture the first run of the game in the top of the third inning. Connor Teykl drew a leadoff walk and moved to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Tristan Gray. Hunter Kopycinski followed with an RBI single to left-center and a 1-0 Owl lead... Texas State used long ball to tie it in the bottom of the fourth. Tanner Hill tallied his 12th homer of the year to make score 1-1... The Owls stranded runners at the corners in the sixth. Otto then came out of the bullpen to help Rice work around trouble in the bottom of the same inning after the Bobcats had put two on with just one away... Texas State appeared to be avoiding similar trouble in the top of the seventh. A two-base fielding error with two outs, however, opened the door and Rice gladly charged through. Ford Proctor scored from second on the error and Teykl took two stations to second base. Tristan Gray followed with a hard RBI double to left-center for another run that made it 3-1... The Bobcats attempted a rally in the bottom of the seventh, but Rice answered with a heads-up play from Kopycinski to get the lead runner at third base on a sacrifice attempt. There was therefore no sacrifice fly on an ensuing fly ball, and an inning-ending strikeout by Otto retired the side... Otto had a 1-2-3 eighth on the way to his fourth win of the season. Myers came in to pitch from third base in the bottom of the ninth, and registered the same three-up three-down shut-down for his fourth save... Amador was equally solid in his fifth start of the season. The right-hander worked a career-long 5.1 innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while tying a career-high with five strikeouts... The Owls are now 21-11 on the season. Texas State is 21-13 overall... Rice next returns home to host Western Kentucky in a three-game Conference USA weekend series at Reckling Park on April 15-17. Game times are set for 6:30 pm on Friday, 2 pm on Saturday, and 1 pm start time on Sunday..

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2016 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
7-3 in all-white
5-5 in pinstripes
4-2 in gray `birds' tops
4-1 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 200-64 (.758).

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.

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


 

 

The Last Meeting
Rice3
Western Kentucky2
April 26, 2015
Bowling Green, Ky.
Baseball Passes Weekend Test; Owls Complete Sweep at WKU with 3-2 Win Sunday
Rice Baseball held-off challenge after challenge to claim a 3-2 road win at Western Kentucky and complete a three-game sweep of the C-USA weekend series Sunday afternoon in Bowling Green, Ky.


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