Owls Open C-USA Home Series Friday

April 27, 2017

E-mail baseball SID John Sullivan

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WATCH home games online
LISTEN online (pregame show 15 min. before start)
PROMOTIONS (Get the 2017 team poster this weekend!)
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PDF of Rice's pregame release

Apr. 28 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; UTSA at Rice
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Apr. 29 (Sat.) 2 pm; UTSA at Rice
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Apr. 30 (Sun.) 1 pm; UTSA at Rice
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!
Trading Card Give-Away -- The latest 2017 trading card set is available on Sunday courtesy of Houston Methodist!
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Rice Opens Four-Game Homestand Friday; Owls Host UTSA In C-USA Weekend Clash
The Rice baseball team (16-25 overall and 7-11 in Conference USA action) returns home to Reckling Park on Friday (April 28). The Owls host C-USA state foe UTSA in a three-game weekend series lasting thru Sunday (April 30). The Roadrunners are 21-18 on the year and in sole possession of sixth place in the C-USA standings with a 9-9 league record. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:30 pm. Saturday's game is set for 2 pm while Sunday's series finale begins at 1 pm... Rice's current four-game homestand lasts until May 3. The Owls host longtime foe Lamar in a 6:30 pm contest.

Fun & Games At Reckling Park
Not only is the UTSA series critical to the C-USA standings, this is one of the busiest weekends at Reckling Park all year. The Owls' 2017 poster will be at the fan services table near the Reckling Park entrance every game, but there is a lot more to look forward to:
• Friday is Faculty/Staff Appreciation Night. Rice University's amazing employees and up to three guests can enjoy free admission to the game as well as some great food and drink specials. Early arriving fans can receive a free Rice phone wallet as a special give-away item.
• Saturday is the annual Bark In The Park. Don't leave your dogs and pet pups at home, bring them to the ball game! The Houston SPCA will be on site, and they'll have some great dogs available for adoption! A Saturday give-away item is "Fans-For-Fans." These personal hand-held fans, and fashionable fandanas, can help you beat the heat!
• Sunday is Kids Takeover The Park. It's always one of the biggest home events on the schedule! Kids will have a chance to do everything at the stadium from ticket-taking to announcing on the public address system. Sunday is also the Baseball For Babies game. Join the Rice Owls in raising funds to support research so that all premature babies go home healthy. This is the day Rice Owls Kids Club members can receive a free ticket and run the bases after the game. Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for the latest set of Rice baseball trading cards at the fan services table.

Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceBaseball while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceAthletics. 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 links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, and/or the baseball schedule page.

Watch Home Games Online Via OwlVision
The C-USA league games are slated for a live on-line video broadcast this weekend via OwlVision. 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). Games that have been selected for TV broadcasts can alter the online availability.

Play-By-Play Audio On The Web
Every Rice baseball game is scheduled for a live audio broadcast on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the broadcast's pregame show 15 minutes before first pitch. J.P. Heath is in his ninth season as the voice of the Owls.

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 26th season at Rice. The 2017 campaign marks his 38th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,130-491 with the Owls (670-185 at home, 357-235 on the road and 103-71 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .697, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .697 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 113 games in a single year... Graham is 18-4 vs. UTSA (13-1 home, 4-3 road, 1-0 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2016, making 22-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16. 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 Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; sixth year), John Pope (Rice, 1990, Jones College; 1st year),  and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; fifth year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.

1,705 Collegiate Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,130 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,705 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,705-603 in a 35-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Wayne Graham Radio Show Returns May 8 on ESPN 97.5 FM
The Wayne Graham Radio Show, the live weekly Rice baseball show featuring the Owls' Hall of Fame head coach, originates from The Genghis Grill Restaurant off the Southwest Freeway between Wesleyan and Edloe. Its regularly scheduled "off-week" is still set for May 1, but the show returns on May 8 in a big way! The last two baseball shows (May 8 & 15) will now air live in the Houston area on ESPN 97.5 FM, 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 show 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 1,100 Division I wins.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham announced Rice's probable starting pitchers for the first two games of the UTSA series as the right-handed duo of true freshman Matt Canterino (3-4, 3.72) and sophomore Zach Esquivel (4-4, 3.10). Coach Graham will announce the starter for Sunday's series finale at a later time.

National Postseason Streak At 22-Straight, Looking For 23 In 2017
Rice baseball's 22-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation's fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. Each of the top four streaks of making the NCAA Tournament are all of the active variety. In 2016 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 44th-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (39) and Cal State Fullerton (25).

Here's Who's Hot
In both of Rice's last two series vs. Southern Miss and Western Kentucky, junior second baseman Tristan Gray is a combined 15-for-25 (.600) with three home runs and five doubles for a 1.160 slugging percentage. Gray also has a team-best 13 RBI and nine runs scored during his six-game hitting streak... Over the last seven games junior Ryan Chandler is 10-for-22 (.455) with a homer, a double and three stolen bases, but he also has eight walks for a .563 on-base percentage... Graduate transfer Darryn Sheppard is 10-for-27 (.370) with two triples and seven runs scored in a six-game hitting streak... With an 11-game hitting streak that is the team's longest of the season, senior Charlie Warren is now 17-for-50 (.340) with nine RBI... In his last 10 at bats at WKU Dane Myers is a combined 5-for-10 with a pair of home runs... Junior Chace Sarchet has put some good at bats together over the last few outings, going 6-for-his-last-17 (.353) with four doubles (.588 SLG%) and three walks (.450 OB%)... Keep an eye on right-handed hitting DH Andrew Dunlap, who is now 3-for-5 (.600) with home run and three RBI.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2017 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
3-3 in blue `Rice' jersey (with pinstripe pants)
5-6 in all-white
4-5 in gray `birds' jersey
3-5 in all pinstripes
1-3 in blue Cuba Tour jersey
0-3 in gray `Rice' jersey

Last Time Out: Owls Complete Three-Game Sweep of WKU
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- The Rice baseball team got offensive April 22 (Sat.), combining for 23 runs on 27 hits including three home runs, to take both games of a Conference USA double-header at Western Kentucky -- which also completed a three-game sweep of the Hilltoppers in the weekend league series... With the team's first C-USA series win of the season Rice improved to 16-25 overall and 7-11 in the league. The sweep propelled the Owls into a tie for ninth place in the C-USA standings... Scoreboard watching was part of the schedule for newfound day off on Sunday (April 23). The only scoreboard Rice was interested in on Saturday, however, was the one at WKU's Nick Denes Field. The Owls watched themselves light-it-up for the better part of a long, chilly, damp (and almost improvised) double-header... Rice quickly went to work in game one, exploding for seven runs in the top of the second to equal the squad's biggest offensive inning of the season. Western Kentucky had a chance to be out of the inning with a lot less damage on the board, but a dropped fly in the outfield extended the Owls' chances. Rice capitalized by collecting six hits as 11 batters came to plate. The big blow was Dane Myers' massive three-run homer to left for a 7-0 lead... The Owls stretched the margin to 9-0 with single runs in the third and sixth, but WKU battled its way back with a run in the sixth and then four in the eighth to make it 9-5. The Blue & Gray tallied one final insurance run in the ninth for a 10-5 final. Junior Ryan Chandler went 3-for-4 to pace a 13-hit attack where four players had two or more in the contest. True freshman Matt Canterino started on the mound and struck out seven in 7.1 innings of work to improve to 3-4... When the teams saw there was still a window of relief from the storms Saturday, but with the forecast less-promising for Sunday, the contingency schedule of a `possible double-header' was given the green light. Cold and damp conditions or not, both teams quickly got ready to play a new nine frames. Rice's performance in the late show was even better than its first of the day... In game two the Owls piled up 13 runs on another 14 hits highlighted by another two round-trippers. Rice struck for three in the top of first thanks to a big two-out double by Tristan Gray. After another Owl score in the second, the Hilltoppers pushed two runs across in the bottom of the inning to cut the Rice lead in half, 4-2... The two WKU runs, however, was all Rice pitchers Zach Esquivel and Willy Amador would allow the rest of the night. Esquivel scattered six hits on the way to working a career-best 7.2 innings, the longest outing by any Owl pitcher all year. He also posted a career-high nine strikeouts on the way to his fourth win of the season. Amador was solid for the final 1.1 shutout innings... Both hurlers enjoyed the offensive support for the double-header and all series long. After the second inning the Rice hitters still had three more three-run innings left in the tank for a 13-2 final. Every starter had at least one hit, with Gray going a game-best 3-for-4 with three RBI. Chandler launched a three-run homer as part of career-high tying four RBI... Including the Owls' 8-4 win in the series-opener on Friday, Rice batted a combined .333 for the three games (36-of-108) with six home runs, five doubles and a triple for a composite .565 slugging percentage. The Blue & Gray held WKU to a combined .188 batting average with an improvement in issuing walks (14 in 27 total innings).

New Kid On The Block
Houston area native Darryn Sheppard joined the Rice baseball program in January 2017 as a graduate student of Global Affairs. He played the 2014-2016 seasons at Baylor and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. Sheppard owns one year of collegiate eligibility after playing in more than 140 games with 132 Division I starts. He slugged 14 career home runs with 76 runs scored, 63 RBI and 12 steals in three seasons as an outfielder/first baseman in the Big 12 Conference. His solid 2016 season featured a .294 batting average, a .480 slugging percentage and a team-leading eight home runs in 52 starts. The Sugar Land, Texas, native clubbed two homers in a Big 12 road game at Oklahoma last season and led the Bears with 11 games with two or more RBI. He finished third on the squad with 15 multi-hit games in 2016, and was the only Bear to record five hits in a single game.

This & That
The current three-game win streak is the Owls' longest of the season... Heading into the weekend Rice was listed as having the fourth-toughest schedule in the nation according to WarrenNolan.com. BoydsWorld.com meanwhile ranked the Owls' 2017 slate as the fifth-hardest in Division I... Not only has the Rice offense posted double-digit hits in five of the last six games, the team has averaged 10.3 hits per game in its last 19 outings (including a game at Texas A&M on March 21)... This season Charlie Warren has tallied at least three hits in a game six different times, the most on the squad in 2017. Over the weekend Warren collected his 205th career hit, the highest total among Rice's active players... Junior Ryan Chandler has started every game in centerfield since the start of his freshman year in 2015, a streak of 162-straight games... After just two steals in the team's first 14 games, the Owls have now swiped 23 bases in the last 27 games. Junior Dane Myers has registered a new career-high with his team-leading eight steals... The Blue & Gray is hitting a combined .323 (54-for-167) in the second inning. It's the squad's best inning for hitting per game, but the team's best for scoring runs is the first inning (34 runs in 41 games)... Through the first ten starts of his collegiate career true freshman Matt Canterino is averaging 11.2 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. The rookie posted double-digit strikeouts in three-straight outings from March 4-17 (Pepperdine, Stanford and Old Dominion). The last Owl to do that was eventual major leaguer Jeff Niemann in the national championship season of 2003 (Wichita State, Houston and Southwest Missouri State)... The Owls got one pitcher back from the injured list. Redshirt freshman Jackson Parthasarathy appeared in the finale of the Southern Miss series (April 16), his first outing since February of 2016. Parthasarathy ended up missing the entire 2016 C-USA slate and the duration between his appearances was 415 days.

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 2018 season. The list of newest Owls includes Dane Acker, Luis Aviles, Justin Collins, Braden Comeaux, Dominic Cox, Trei Cruz, Joshua Larzabal, Parker Osburn and Kelby Weyler. The group consists of two multi-position players who are versatile enough to contribute as both a pitcher and position player/hitter. There are three infielders and three catchers. All are from the high school ranks. Seven are from Texas and five are from the greater Houston area.

Otto Garners A Host of Preseason All-America Honors
With a steady stream of Preseason All-America honors, Owl junior right-hander Glenn Otto will not have much chance to sneak up on opponents. The list of accolades for he and junior right-hander Ricardo Salinas are as follows:
Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball
First Team
RHP       Glenn Otto

National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
Second Team
RHP       Glenn Otto
Third Team
RHP       Ricardo Salinas

D1Baseball.com
Third Team
RHP       Glenn Otto, Rice

National Stopper of the Year Watch List
RHP       Glenn Otto, Rice

Golden Spikes Award Watch List
RHP       Glenn Otto, Rice

Owls Defeat Cuban Professional Team Last Fall
ARTEMISA, Cuba -- On Nov. 25, 2016, the Rice pitching duo of Dane Myers and Addison Moss combined to hold Cuban League foe Artemisa to no runs on just four hits when the Owls claimed a 4-0 overseas victory in its first and only game on its international tour last fall... Myers was sound and solid scattering two singles and two walks with five strikeouts over 6.0 innings against the older and professional Cuban players. The junior from Katy, Texas, retired seven of the first eight batters he faced. When the first Artemisa batter reached on a free pass, the Cazadores' dangerous slugging first-baseman Juan Rodriguez, Myers picked him off first with crafty move that seemed to spark Rice on offensive side in the top of the very next inning... Dayne Wunderlich was hit by a pitch and tried to hustle to third on Myers' one-out single into centerfield. Wunderlich was retired on a strong, veteran throw by Yuan Moreno, but Myers alertly dashed up to second on the play to keep an runner in scoring position. Sophomore Ford Proctor followed with an RBI single into left and los Buhos (the Owls) were on the board 1-0... Rice was back on the offensive when senior Charlie Warren led off the fifth with a hit to left center and a steal of second base. He went to third on a Wunderlich single and scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead... After the traditional Cuban sixth-inning stretch, the Owls added a little more insurance in the seventh. Proctor stroked a two-out double to left and with first base open Artemisa elected to intentionally walk Dominic DiCaprio. Ryan Chandler singled-home Proctor, and a wild throw from the outfield allowed DiCaprio to come home and stretch the margin to 4-0... That was now proving to be more than enough room. True freshman Addison Moss started the game at first base and switched positions in the field with Myers after the sixth. The right-hander from Conroe, Texas, kept the shutout intact and earned a save with 3.0 innings of two-hit relief where he allowed two singles and without any walks and a strikeout... "The experience of coming here has already been so beneficial, the game today was just icing on the cake," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham, who was making his return to Cuba since his minor league playing season at AAA Buffalo in 1960. "We've just been treated so well I know the players will remember this trip and this particular game very fondly. After the big (pregame) ceremony they had and all, we were maybe a little nervous at the very start," Graham explained. "When we just relaxed and started playing, we played really well. We finished with 11 hits and Dane was sensational like we know he can be."... Proctor and Wunderlich paced the Owls with three-hits each, and Myers had two hits in addition to his win on the mound... The Owls were originally scheduled to play five exhibition games on its educational and cultural tour of the previously `closed' island nation last November, but the death of longtime lead Fidel Castro (when the team was in Havana) forced a cancellation of the four remaining games. The Owl players, however, continued to make the rest of its itinerary destinations at various landmarks and museums.

Rice's 20-Straight Conference Titles From 1996-2015
Rice saw it's streak of winning 20-straight conference titles come to an end in 2016. The Owls had 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 covered 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 from 2006-2015. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 21 years:

 

 

YearConferenceRegular SeasonConf. Tourney
2016C-USA4th2nd
2015C-USA1sttied 7th
2014C-USA1st1st
2013C-USAtied 1st1st
2012C-USAtied 1sttied 5th
2011C-USA1st1st
2010C-USA1st2nd
2009C-USA2nd1st
2008C-USA1sttied 7th
2007C-USA1st1st
2006C-USA1st1st
2005WAC1stno tourney
2004WAC1stno tourney
2003WAC1stno tourney
2002WAC1stno tourney
2001WAC1stno tourney
2000WACtied 1stno tourney
1999WAC1st1st
1998WAC1st South Div.1st
1997WAC1st South Div.1st
1996SWCtied 6th1st

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 18 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999-2016 (note: this listing will not be updated to include games played in 2017):

SchoolWLTPct
Florida St.8763211.732
Rice8373260.720
South Carolina8263550.699
North Carolina7973461.697
LSU8073546.694
Miami (Fla.)7823443.694
Cal State Fullerton7753470.691
Costal Carolina7693490.688
Oral Roberts7333440.681
Arizona St.7083352.678
Texas7723731.674
Georgia Tech7463771.664
Virginia7223773.657
Clemson7534121.646
TCU7163930.646
Nebraska7033872.645
Florida7374072.644
East Carolina6973924.640
Florida Atlantic6903892.639
Louisville7044002.638
Texas A&M7184083.637
Oregon St.6593751.637
Tulane6993982.637
Oklahoma St.6943970.636
Stanford6903952.636
Col. of Charleston6763872.636
Kent State6753870.636
DBU (11 years)4092360.634
Vanderbilt7014140.629
Ohio St.6663992.625
UL-Lafayette6894161.623
Southern Miss6774101.623



The Last Meeting
Rice1
UTSA0
March 20, 2016
San Antonio
Rice Takes UTSA Series With 1-0 Win Sunday
The Rice baseball team pushed across one run on just three hits, but the Owl pitching tandem of Ricardo Salinas and Glenn Otto made it stand up by combining for a shutout in the finale of the three-game weekend series Sunday afternoon in San Antonio.


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