Rice Hosts Charlotte Friday In C-USA Twin-bill

April 28, 2016

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April 29 (Fri.) 3 pm; Game 1 of DH, Charlotte at Rice
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April 29 (Fri.) Game 2 of DH is 45 minutes after game 1; Charlotte at Rice
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April 30 (Sat.) 2 pm; Charlotte at Rice
Giveaway Item - Get the fifth 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, 25-13 overall and ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation this week by Baseball America, returns to Conference USA league play on April 29. The Owls host a three-game weekend series vs. Charlotte at Reckling Park. Note the new start times against the 49ers (18-24 overall and 7-11) are set for a 3 pm double-header on Friday. The series finale is scheduled for 2 pm Saturday (with Sunday now as a fall-back option). Rice enters the weekend one game behind Southern Miss in the C-USA standings with 12 more league games to play.

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
Most C-USA 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). Information about the service and subscription prices are available at RiceOwls.com. Games that have been selected for TV broadcasts can alter the OwlVision availability.

Rice Baseball Returns To Radio Airwaves
The final two games this weekend are 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 upcoming radio games are among the Owls' biggest of the season - the full Charlotte series, crosstown foe Houston (May 10) and the entire Florida Atlantic series (May 13-15).

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.

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. 15
Here's a closer look at some of the national rankings, as well as Rice's spot in the same poll from last week:
Organization           Current    Previous
Baseball America            15       13
D1Baseball.com              16       15
College Sports Madness      20       22
College Baseball Central    23       19
PerfectGame.com             24       23
Collegiate Baseball         29       24
USA Today/ESPN              --       20
NCBWA                       --       27

NCAA RPI at No. 18
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. 18 RPI in the nation heading into this weekend. Rice is in fact the highest of three C-USA schools ranked in the current RPI top 30.

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 1,101-455 with the Owls (658-168 at home, 345-218 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 3-0 vs. Charlotte... 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.

1,676 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,101 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,676 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,676-568 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 Charlotte series at a later time. Here's an updated look at last week's starting pitchers for the road series at Southern Miss (April 29-May 1).
• Veteran Jon Duplantier (4-4, 2.58 ERA) has been sound and solid in his ten starts this season, working at least 6.0 innings in each outing for a team-leading total of 69.2 frames. The Katy, Texas, native averages an eye-opening 11.2 strikeouts per 9.0 innings with a 3.2-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He's faced four nationally-ranked teams in Arizona, Arkansas, East Carolina and Southern Miss, 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 then picked up the league pitching honor a second time for his first complete game, a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts and no earned runs against ODU. For the year he's held opposing hitters to an austere .202 combined batting average. 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 ten starts, and his recent outing in the opener of the April 16 double-header vs. Western Kentucky may have been among the best of his career. Against the Hilltoppers the left-hander allowed just two runs in a season-long 8.0 innings while recording a career-high nine strikeouts. For the full season he has maintained a 2.96 ERA and held opponents to a composite .239 batting average in 6.1 innings per start. He was particularly sharp in a C-USA appearance at Middle Tennessee, allowing no runs on six singles in 7.0 innings with five strikeouts. A closer look reveals that in nine of his ten starts his offensive teammates have supported him with only a .204 batting average and just 2.7 runs per game. For his collegiate career, Fox is 29-7 with a 2.57 ERA in 287.2 collegiate innings. The Houston native is the Rice's active leader in career appearances (60), starts (43) and strikeouts (202).
Ricardo Salinas has grown into his role as a weekend starter, and he's been particularly tough the last seven weekends. In his last seven starts (all in the series finales vs. East Carolina and six other C-USA opponents) the Houston native is 6-0 with an 2.18 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. He posted a new career-long outing with a 9.0-inning complete game two-hit shutout vs. UAB (April 10). 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 with 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 brief time at Rice, Salinas is 9-3 overall with 15 starts in his collegiate career.

Here's Who's Hot
True freshman Ford Proctor had two hits in the series finale at Southern Miss. In his last six games the Beaumont, Texas, native is 10-for-24 (.417) with a pair of doubles and three runs scored... Sophomore leftfielder Tristan Gray enters the weekend with a career-best 8-game hitting streak where he is 11-for-27 (.407) with two doubles and a triple for a .556 slugging percentage. He's also scored three runs, driven-in two, and had two sac bunts during his recent hitting spree... In the last six games vs. two C-USA opponents, senior Connor Teykl is a combined 8-for-20 (.400) with three doubles for a .550 slugging percentage. He's also driven-in three runs, scored twice, and tallied a pair of sac bunts... If you're only as good as your last game, freshman designated hitter Dominic DiCaprio went 2-for-2 with a walk at Southern Miss. In going back a little further for a wider sample of games the rookie from Florida is 11-for-his-last-28 (.393) with 3 RBI.  

Kopy That
Senior catcher Hunter Kopycinski is now 13-for-his-last-46 (.283) with eight walks for a .389 on-base average. Being a catcher is certainly one of baseball's more demanding positions, but Kopycinski isn't exactly sharing the work recently. The Houston native has started 18 of the last 19 games behind the plate where the Owls are 14-4. In this stretch where Kopycinski has caught almost every inning, the Rice pitching staff has enjoyed a composite 1.92 ERA in almost 168.0 frames.

Previous Game: Southern Miss Rallies Past Rice In Ninth, 2-1
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss rallied for the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim a 2-1 Conference USA win over the Rice baseball team Sunday afternoon in Hattiesburg, Miss... The Golden Eagles won the three-game series 2-1 to break the C-USA deadlock with the Owls and move into sole possession of first place in the league standings with a 14-4 league record. Rice is now 13-5 in conference action. Florida Atlantic is in third place, one game behind the Blue & Gray at 12-6 at the end of Sunday's games... The series that featured three one-run games, and where no outcome ever seemed to be completely in-hand until securing the final out, came down to the bottom of the ninth Sunday. With the score 1-1 in the ninth, the Golden Eagles' Hunter Slater drew a leadoff walk and took second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third on a sacrifice and scored on Daniel Keating's base hit to shallow right that was the team's fifth hit of the day... Southern Miss opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. Catcher Chuckie Robinson homered to left with two away for a 1-0 lead... With seven hits and a pair of walks through the first six innings Rice had plenty of baserunners and chances to help themselves. The Owls were not able to come up with the big hit, however, and left eight men on base through the first six frames... USM turned two with two Owls on-base in the eighth, but Rice still had a pinch-runner Charlie Warren reach third on the double-play. Down 1-0 and with just four outs to work with, senior Grayson Lewis followed with a clutch base hit through the right side to get the Owls on the board and tie the score, 1-1... Rice finished the day with ten hits, but was 3-of-16 when batting with men on base and 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Owl sophomore Ricardo Salinas made his tenth start on the mound and worked into the eighth inning. He scattered four hits and three walks while striking out four. Austin Solecitto and Glenn Otto saw action out of the bullpen.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2016 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
8-3 in all-white
7-5 in pinstripes
5-1 in blue tops with pinstripe pants
4-4 in gray `birds' tops
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 204-66 (.756).

Myers & Otto On Initial Watch Lists For National Awards
LUBBOCK, Texas - The sophomore duo of Dane Myers and Glenn Otto have each been named to the respective watch list for some of the top awards presented annually by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, the organization announced Wednesday from its headquarters in Lubbock, Texas... Otto made the initial watch list for the 2016 National Pitcher of the Year Award. Myers has been named to the first watch list for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, honoring the nation's top performer who contributes both on the mound and at the plate. Both awards will be presented as part of the College Baseball Hall of Fame's Night of Champions celebration in Lubbock this July... Myers has made a key contribution to the team as a relief pitcher in addition to his regular duty of starting each of Rice's 35 games at third base. He owns a .252 batting average, leads the Owls with three triples and shares the team lead with 20 runs scored. The Katy, Texas, native has been a steady fielder at the hot corner, but also been brought in to pitch in order to make the most of his versatile skills. In seven appearances on the mound this season, Myers has notched four saves, maintained a 3.00 ERA, held opposing hitters to a .190 average and struck out 13 in 12.0 innings of work... Otto is the squad's leader with seven saves. The stopper from Spring, Texas, owns an austere 1.37 ERA, held opposing hitters to a composite .204 average and been Rice's winning pitcher four times. He has struck out 48 batters in 39.1 innings, an eye-opening 10.98 strikeouts per 9.0 innings of work.

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

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. As a team 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 was a TV game. The next 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
Rice6
Charlotte3
March 8, 2015
Charlotte, N.C.
Baseball Rallies To Complete C-USA Sweep of Charlotte
The Rice baseball team rallied from a two-run deficit in the eighth inning for an eventual 6-3 Conference USA road victory and sweep of the weekend series at Charlotte Sunday afternoon in North Carolina.



 

 

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