Rice Meets Houston Tuesday At Constellation Field

May 8, 2017

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

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LISTEN online (pregame show 15 min. before start)
PROMOTIONS (Get the 2017 team poster this weekend!)

PDF of Rice's pregame release

May 9 (Tues.) 7 pm; Rice vs. Houston at Constellation Field
GameTracker (activates at game time)
Note: NO VIDEO webcast for this game at neutral field.

Rice Faces No. 25 Houston Tuesday Night At Constellation Field
The Rice baseball team (22-26 overall) is still away from home for one more game before returning to Reckling Park this weekend. The Owls head to Sugar Land, Texas, on May 9 to play nationally-ranked Houston in the finale of three regular season meetings in 2017. Tuesday's first pitch against the Cougars (30-17) is set for 7 pm at Constellation Field, the minor league home of the Sugar Land Skeeters... On Friday (May 12) Rice is then back home for the first time in more than a week. The Owls resume Conference USA league play May 12-14 with a three-game weekend series against Middle Tennessee. As the 2017 season heads into its final stages, there are just four regular season home games remaining at Reckling Park.

No Webcast From Sugar Land
Note that with Tuesday's game vs. Houston to be played at the neutral site of Constellation Field, there is no online video of this contest.

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 1,136-492 with the Owls (673-186 at home, 360-235 on the road and 103-71 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .698, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .698 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 113 games in a single year... Graham is 84-34 vs. Houston (45-10 home, 36-21 road, 3-3 neutral)... He is 6-5 vs. Middle Tennessee (2-1 home, 3-3 road, 1-1 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.

1,711 Collegiate Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,136 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,711 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,711-605 in a 35-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Wayne Graham Radio Show Returned 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 returned on May 8 in a big way! The last two baseball shows (May 8 & 15) 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 Pitcher
Coach Graham will announce the starting pitchers for this week's games at a later time.

Here's Who's Hot
Not only has junior second baseman Tristan Gray hit safely in 12 of the Owls' last 13 games, the Houston native is 27-for-52 (.519) in that span with three home runs and ten doubles for an .855 slugging percentage. Gray has also driven-in 21 runs and scored 14 times in the last 13 games... Sophomore catcher Dominic DiCaprio owns a career-best nine-game hitting streak, but he is batting at a .455 pace (25-of-55) over the Owls' last 14 games. He's reaching base at a .516 pace and has scored 11 runs while driving in ten in the last 14 games... In his current 11-game hitting streak Dane Myers is 19-for-45 (.422) with three home runs, a triple and two doubles for a .711 slugging percentage. He also has eight walks during the hot streak for a .509 on-base average. The junior third baseman/pitcher is batting an eye-opening .419 (39-of-93) with a .688 slugging percentage in the Owls' 24 C-USA league games... Graduate transfer Darryn Sheppard is 22-for-55 (.400) with a home run, two triples, three doubles, 13 RBI, and 12 runs scored in a season-best 13-game hitting streak... In a current stretch of 14-straight games to reach base, junior Ryan Chandler is 19-for-49 (.388) with two home runs, five doubles and three stolen bases, but he also has 13 walks for a .508 on-base percentage with 14 runs scored... Senior outfielder Dayne Wunderlich might be heating-up at just the right time. In his last six at bats the Brenham, Texas, native as three hits - all home runs for a 2.000 slugging percentage... Keep an eye on right-handed hitting DH Andrew Dunlap, who is now 4-for-his-last-11 (.364) with two home runs, five RBI three runs scored, a sac bunt, and his second walk of the season.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2017 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
4-3 in blue `Rice' jersey (with pinstripe pants)
6-5 in gray `birds' jersey
7-7 in all-white
4-5 in all pinstripes
1-3 in blue Cuba Tour jersey
0-3 in gray `Rice' jersey

Last Time Out: Owls Rally Past Charlotte Sunday, 11-8
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Trailing by five and down to their last six outs, the Rice baseball team batted around for seven runs in the eighth inning to help claim an eventual 11-8 Conference USA road win at Charlotte in the finale of a weekend league series Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, North Carolina... With the team's sixth-straight win, and ninth in the last ten games, Rice is now 22-26 on the season. The Owls also held onto its tie for seventh place in the conference standings with a 12-12 C-USA record. Charlotte is 27-20 on the year and 14-10 in C-USA action... Rice had played well to win both of the first two games of the weekend series, but found itself down 8-3 to start the top of the eighth inning Sunday. Dayne Wunderlich started the frame off with a home run, his second of the day to take over the team lead with five round-trippers, and the Owls never looked back... Each of the next seven batters in the order proceeded to reach base by alternating four walks and three hits. Charlotte used three different pitchers to try and halt the rally, but Rice pushed across seven runs to surge in front 10-8 and equal the squad's biggest offensive inning of the season... Rice added one final insurance run in the top of the ninth, and kept the 49ers in check over the final two frames. The Owls used a total of seven pitchers, including five pitchers in the bottom of the seventh inning alone. The last of which was Dane Myers moving over from third base, who may not have thought much of his chances to end up posting his first win of the season... With a pair of Wunderlich home runs, as well as a three-hit day from both Dominic DiCaprio and Tristan Gray, the Blue & Gray finished 12 hits in the contest.

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
Rice enters the week with a six-game winning streak that is currently tied for the sixth-longest in the nation... Since a game at Texas A&M six weeks ago (March 21), the Owls' offense has averaged 10.6 hits per game and batted .304 as a team... Over the weekend Rice hit back-to-back home runs in back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday the Owls also had their most home runs in a single game (four), since a NCAA Regional game in 2010... Heading into this week'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 Charlotte Warren collected his 208th 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 169-straight games... After just two steals in the team's first 14 games, the Owls have now swiped 28 bases in the last 34 games. Junior Dane Myers has registered a new career-high with his team-leading ten steals... The Blue & Gray is hitting a combined .345 (69-for-200) in the first inning, and that is also the squad's best inning for scoring runs (43 runs in 48 games)... Junior right-hander Glenn Otto now needs just three more strikeouts to reach 200 for collegiate career... Through the first 12 starts of his collegiate career true freshman Matt Canterino is averaging 10.5 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... 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

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
2015C-USA1sttied 7th
2013C-USAtied 1st1st
2012C-USAtied 1sttied 5th
2008C-USA1sttied 7th
2005WAC1stno tourney
2004WAC1stno tourney
2003WAC1stno tourney
2002WAC1stno tourney
2001WAC1stno tourney
2000WACtied 1stno tourney
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):

Florida St.8763211.732
South Carolina8263550.699
North Carolina7973461.697
Miami (Fla.)7823443.694
Cal State Fullerton7753470.691
Costal Carolina7693490.688
Oral Roberts7333440.681
Arizona St.7083352.678
Georgia Tech7463771.664
East Carolina6973924.640
Florida Atlantic6903892.639
Texas A&M7184083.637
Oregon St.6593751.637
Oklahoma St.6943970.636
Col. of Charleston6763872.636
Kent State6753870.636
DBU (11 years)4092360.634
Ohio St.6663992.625
Southern Miss6774101.623

The Last Meeting
April 11, 2017
Reckling Park
Like A Glove! Rice Rallies Past Houston
Junior Chace Sarchet lined a two-out, two-strike double in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game, then scored the winning run on Ryan Chandler's single, as the Rice baseball team rallied to defeat crosstown rival Houston 4-3 late Tuesday night at Reckling Park.



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