Owls Face Red-Hot Charlotte 49ers

May 4, 2017

E-mail baseball SID John Sullivan
E-mail baseball promotions & game-music director Matt Anderson

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May 5 (Fri.) 5:30 pm (Central Time); Rice at Charlotte (New start time is a change from some earlier listings.
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May 6 (Sat.) 1 pm (Central Time); Rice at Charlotte
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May 7 (Sun.) 12 Noon (Central Time); Rice at Charlotte
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Rice Returns To C-USA Action Friday Night; Owls Face Red-Hot Charlotte On The Road
The Rice baseball team (19-26 overall and 9-12 in Conference USA league play) heads to North Carolina to resume C-USA action on May 5-7. The Owls face a red-hot Charlotte squad that is 27-17 overall, tied for third place in the C-USA standings, and winners in 10 of their last 11 games. Start times against the 49ers are set for 5:30 pm Friday, 1 pm Saturday and 12 noon Sunday. Friday's first pitch is a change from some earlier listings.

Watch C-USA Games Online
The conference games at Charlotte this weekend are slated for a live online video broadcast via CUSA.tv. This 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.

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.

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 1,133-492 with the Owls (673-186 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 5-1 vs. Charlotte (2-1 home, 3-0 road)... 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.

1,708 Collegiate Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,133 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,708 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,708-605 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" was 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 Charlotte series as the right-handed duo of true freshman Matt Canterino (3-4, 3.88) and sophomore Zach Esquivel (5-4, 3.27). Coach Graham will announce the starter for Sunday's series finale at a later time.

Here's Who's Hot
Not only has junior second baseman Tristan Gray stretched his hitting streak to a season-best ten-straight games, the Houston native is 22-for-41 (.532) in that span with three home runs and eight doubles for a 1.000 slugging percentage... In his last 20 at bats Dane Myers is a combined 10-for-20 with a pair of home runs, a double and three walks. The junior third baseman/pitcher is batting an eye-opening .415 in the Owls' 21 C-USA games... In four games sophomore catcher Dominic DiCaprio is 8-for-17 (.471) with a double, a walk and four runs scored... Graduate transfer Darryn Sheppard is 17-for-43 (.395) with two triples, three doubles, nine RBI, and nine runs scored in a season-best ten-game hitting streak... Sophomore Ford Proctor is 7-for-17 (.412) in a five-game hitting streak with five walks (.522 OB%) and five runs scored... In a current stretch of 11-straight games to reach base, junior Ryan Chandler is 15-for-37 (.405) with a homer, two doubles and three stolen bases, but he also has ten walks for a .520 on-base percentage with nine runs scored... Junior Chace Sarchet has put some good at bats together over the last few outings, going 5-for-his-last-16 (.313) with three doubles (.500 SLG%), five walks (.476 OB%), five RBI and five runs scored... Keep an eye on right-handed hitting DH Andrew Dunlap, who is now 3-for-his-last-6 (.500) with home run, three RBI and two runs scored.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2017 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
7-7 in all-white
3-3 in blue `Rice' jersey (with pinstripe pants)
4-5 in all pinstripes
4-5 in gray `birds' jersey
1-3 in blue Cuba Tour jersey
0-3 in gray `Rice' jersey

Last Time Out: Owls Rally Past Lamar Wednesday In Ninth Inning
HOUSTON - Junior Ryan Chandler delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to help lift the Rice baseball team to a dramatic 9-8 victory over longtime state foe Lamar Wednesday evening at Reckling Park, all before rains soaked the Houston area... Both teams wanted to beat the impending weather conditions, and started the contest a full 90 minutes ahead of its previously listed 6:30 pm first pitch. Lamar was ready for the time change, and proceeded to build an early 5-0 advantage through its first five offensive innings... Rice came alive in the bottom of the fifth, exploding for five runs on four hits and three walks. Dominic DiCaprio's one-out single with two on base scored one, and a walk to Darryn Sheppard loaded the bases. Ford Proctor, a Beaumont native, followed with a double into right field to score two more. Sheppard scored on Tristan Gray's RBI grounder and Proctor dashed home to tie the game, 5-5, on a Cardinal passed ball... The tie score did not last long after costly back-to-back walks to start the top of the sixth. Lamar came right back with a run to make it 6-5 on a RBI single by Robin Adames... The Owls surged in front with three big runs in the seventh by opportunistically taking advantage of a Cardinal fielding miscue. With added life, Charlie Warren, Chace Sarchet and Chandler all collected consecutive singles to give Rice an 8-6 lead... A 26-win Cardinal squad still would not go away so easily. With two on base and two-away in the ninth, Phil Ingram's double to left tied the score 8-8... The Blue & Gray had been in a similar predicament recently, coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line vs. crosstown rival Houston. In that contest Rice had to come from behind or the game was lost. Wednesday the game was tied so it seemed the Owls would at least have more than one offensive inning if the bottom of the ninth didn't work out... It seemed Rice might have an extra inning to work with, but it wasn't a lock. With some heavy rains looming closer and closer, the Owls needed get a result before Mother Nature stepped-in... Charlie Warren drew a leadoff walk and he hustled up second base on a textbook sacrifice bunt by Sarchet. Up stepped Chandler, the same hero of the April 11 walk-off win vs. Houston, in the same situation... It was a simple case of lightning striking twice... Chandler laced a pitch into right-center field and Warren sprinted for home with the game-winning score, 9-8. By the time the media got down to the field from the pressbox to do some postgame interviews, sheets of rain were now hitting the field... The Owls improved to 19-26 on the season. Lamar is 26-20 overall.

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
Starting with the game at Texas A&M on March 21 (23 outings), the Owls' offense has averaged 10.6 hits per game and batted .303 as a team... Heading into this weekend's games 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... In 26 home games this season Rice is averaging more than 2,400 fans per game... This season Charlie Warren has tallied at least three hits in a game six different times, the most on the squad in 2017. Against Lamar Warren collected his 207th 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 166-straight games... After just two steals in the team's first 14 games, the Owls have now swiped 25 bases in the last 31 games. Junior Dane Myers has registered a new career-high with his team-leading nine steals... The Blue & Gray is hitting a combined .339 (63-for-186) in the first inning, and that is also the squad's best inning for scoring runs (41 runs in 42 games)... Through the first 11 starts of his collegiate career true freshman Matt Canterino is averaging 10.9 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  when he fanned ten in games against Wichita State, Houston and Southwest Missouri State... In Saturday's 7-4 win over UTSA, sophomore pitcher/infielder Kendal Jefferies registered the first save of his collegiate career in allowing just two base hits in the final 3.2 frames. The right-hander from Spring, Texas, equaled his career best with six strikeouts and retired each of the last six batters he faced... 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.

Otto Garners A Host of Preseason All-America Honors
With a steady stream of Preseason All-America honors, Owl junior right-hander Glenn Otto did 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

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).

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.

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
Charlotte4
Rice12
April 30, 2016
Reckling Park
Owls Get Offensive, Top Charlotte Saturday 12-4
Sophomore outfielder Ryan Chandler registered a career-best four hits to lead a Rice season-high 17-hit attack in the Owls' 12-4 Conference USA victory over visiting Charlotte Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park in Houston.


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