One of Rodriguez' three RBI Tuesday night was the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth.
HOUSTON -- The 14th-ranked Rice baseball team may have already clinched the 2005 Sterling Bank Silver Glove Trophy against Houston, but the Owls rallied like it was still on the line with six runs in the final three innings to claim game four of the annual five-game series between the crosstown rivals with a dramatic 10-9 win over the Cougars Tuesday night at Reckling Park.
Houston built an 8-1 lead through the first four and one-half innings, but Rice rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth, one in the seventh, four in the eighth and one final score in the bottom of the ninth (after a Houston run in the top of the frame) on the way to a 10-9 final. The Owls have won each of the four games of the current series and have defeated their crosstown rival six consecutive times dating back to last season. Rice has won the annual series for the coveted Sterling Bank Silver Glove Trophy five years in a row (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005).
The game was going all Houston's way with three runs in the top of third. Dustin Kingsbury's sacrifice fly brought one home and Brad Lincoln connected for a two-run homer to right field. The Owls answered with a run in the bottom of the frame when senior Clay Reichenbach led off with a walk and advanced to third on a single by Tyler Henley. He then scored on a double-play grounder by Greg Buchanan.
The Cougars came back with a run in the top of the fourth in the same way. A double-play ground ball scored Bryan Pounds to make score 4-1. Houston stretched the lead to 8-1 in the fifth with four runs on five hits, a hit batter and a wild pitch.
Rice began the comeback with three in the bottom of the fifth to make it an 8-4 game. Reichenbach reached on a fielding error, Henley was hit by pitch and Buchanan singled through the left side to load the bases. Freshman Joe Savery brought them all home with a double to left-center. Rice loaded the bases again but Houston worked out of the jam with another double play.
The Owls loaded the bases the seventh and eighth and added a total of five runs. Rice took advantage of three walks and a wild pitch for its run in the seventh. In the eighth, Rice slugged three hits and capitalized on two more Cougar errors. Sophomore Josh Rodriguez tied the game with a single that scored two and Reichenbach's bases-loaded single gave the Blue and Gray its first lead at 9-8.
Houston was not finished. Travis Tully singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by Lincoln through the left side to tie the game once again, 9-9. Houston loaded the bases looking for more but this time Rice turned a double play on a liner back to pitcher Lance Pendleton.
In the bottom of the ninth Savery reached on a fielder's choice and Adam Hale's double to the gap moved him to third. Houston issued an intentional walk to set up a potential play, but Rodriguez singled to score Savery with the winning run, 10-9.
The Owls improved to 30-14 on the year with their fourth win in a row. Houston fell to 18-22. Rice next hosts Western Athletic Conference rival Fresno State in a three-game weekend series. In a change from the regular Friday-Saturday-Sunday format, the Owls and Bulldogs will play a double-header on Friday (Apr. 29) followed by a single game on Saturday. The first pitch for both days will be 2 pm at Reckling Park.