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May 9, 2013

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May 10 (Fri.) 6:36 pm; Memphis at Rice
Game televised by FOX College Sports
GameTracker (activates at game time)

May 11 (Sat.) 2 pm; Memphis at Rice
Watch the game on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)

May 12 (Sun.) 1 pm; Memphis at Rice
Watch the game on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)

All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.

Rice Hosts Memphis in Critical C-USA Showdown;
The Rice baseball team, 32-15 overall and ranked in the Top 20 of at least five national polls, resumes Conference USA league play beginning Friday (May 10). The Owls host Memphis, the hottest team in C-USA with four-straight wins, in a three-game weekend series. Reckling Park start times against the Tigers are set for 6:36 pm on Friday, 2 pm on Saturday and 1 in Sunday's series finale. A year ago Memphis advanced to the Championship Final of the 2012 C-USA Tournament.

Owls Play Next 9-of-10 at Home at Reckling Park
After a four-game road-swing that began on March 3, Rice has one of its biggest stretches of home games of the season starting on May 10. The Owls play three-straight at home against Memphis, and six-of-seven at home to close out the regular season schedule on May 18. When including three pool play games of the upcoming C-USA Championship (May 22-26), the Blue & Gray in fact plays nine-of-its-next-ten games at home at Reckling Park. That could be a very good way to build momentum heading into national postseason play.

It's T.V. Time on Fox College Sports
Friday's opening game of the Memphis series has been selected for a TV broadcast. Fox College Sports, a leader in televising collegiate competitions across the country, is bringing the Rice-Memphis clash to the nation. Broadcasters Darren Sutton (play-by-play) and former major leaguer Preston Wilson (commentary) have the TV call Friday night. Last month the same broadcast duo did the Rice-Texas Tech game from Reckling Park.

Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games, home or away, can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The FM frequency for the in-stadium broadcasts at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM. Proximity broadcasts for away games will be announced prior to that game. J.P. Heath returns as the voice of the Owls this season. For some selected home games he will be joined in the Rice broadcast booth by either 2003 national champion letterman Enrique Cruz or "Jimmy Baseball," aka Owl letterman and new R Association Director Jimmy Comerota.

Watch Most Home Games On OwlVision All Access
Most home games at Reckling Park and C-USA games, home or away, 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). The service has been growing in popularity the last few years. Information about the service and subscription prices are available at RiceOwls.com.

Live Stats On GameTracker
Links to live play-by-play text and statistics from every game are posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, the baseball schedule page.

97th Season on the Baseball Diamond
Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2013 season is, however, only the Owls' 97th season playing on the diamond. The school cancelled its baseball season in 1919 and did not field a team for three years (1933-35) during the Great Depression. Rice returned to the diamond in the spring of 1936 and has been playing ever since... The Rice baseball program's all-time record is 1,892 - 1,504 - 9.

Get Your Big Hair & Parachute Pants Ready For `80s Reunion
On Saturday, May 11, the Rice baseball program will welcome back to the baseball diamond a special group of Owl lettermen. Former Rice players from the 1980s who played under former head coach David Hall will be recognized on the field at Reckling Park. In the 1980s, Rice baseball compiled a winning 338-267 overall record while playing league games in the rugged Southwest Conference. The .559 win percentage from the `80s was the highest in the history of the program at the time. The 1984 Owl team was ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation... Two players from the decade, former major leaguers Norm Charlton and Matt Williams, will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the 2 pm Memphis game... Coach Hall is survived by his wife, Debra, who will attend the runion at Reckling Park.

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 22nd season at Rice. The 2013 campaign marks his 33rd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 985-395 with the Owls (590-143 at home, 304-195 in road games and 91-57 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .714, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .714 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this week's opponent is as follows: 20-7 vs. Memphis (8-2 home, 9-3 road, 3-2 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2012, making 18-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. 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 and 2012 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09 and `11... 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 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; eighth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; second year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; first year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Hallmark coaches at first base.

1,559 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 985 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,559 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,559-508 in a 32-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Solid In C-USA Action
Since its first Conference USA baseball campaign in the spring of 2006, Rice's regular-season record in C-USA league games is 144-44 (.766).

Probable Rice Pitchers
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting rotation for the first two games of the Memphis series as the right-handed tandem of junior Austin Kubitza (6-3, 1.74) and sophomore Jordan Stephens (5-3, 3.29). Sunday's starter will be announced by coach Graham at a later time.
Austin Kubitza was named a second team 2013 preseason All-America selection the National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). This year Kubitza is 6-3 with a 1.74 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 72.1 innings. He has posted sensational outings against No. 1 North Carolina (1 ER, 6.2 IP, 9K in a no-decision), No. 4 Stanford on Opening Day (0 R, 6.0 IP, 12K), at East Carolina (0 R, 7.1 IP, 10K), at crosstown rival Houston (0 R, 7.0 IP, 10K), FIU on the road (2 ER in 6.1 IP, 11K) and at Hawaii (0 R, 7.0 IP, 13K). In 2013 the Colleyville, Tex., native has held all opposing hitters to a composite .182 batting average and struck out 10 or more in a game five times in 12 starts. He averages 11.9 strikeouts and 5.6 hits allowed per 9.0 innings. Now in the third year of his collegiate career, Kubitza has maintained a 2.28 Rice ERA and he has fanned 271 batters in 252.2 collegiate innings.
• Sophomore Jordan Stephens has been sound and solid as a member of the Owls' weekend rotation. The Alvin, Tex., native is 5-3 with a 3.29 ERA. His overall totals include four spot-relief appearances in midweek games, but he has been effective in either role. In his 11 starts Stephens has averaged 6.2 innings per outing and held opponents to a composite .235 batting average. In his second start of the season at Hawaii (Feb. 23) he logged the best game of his young Rice career. At Hawaii he pitched the staff's first complete as an Owl, holding the Rainbows to just one run (which was unearned) on four hits while striking out ten - all on the road. Last week Stephens fanned a carrer-high 11 UAB hitters in just 7.2 innings. He averages 7.8 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and has maintained a 3.5-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. In his inaugural season of Division I baseball in 2012, Stephens caught the coaches' attention in the fall practices and earned the No. 3 starting spot to begin the year. He went on to pitch in 14 games overall and finish fourth on the team with eight starts.
• Memphis announced its first two starting pitchers of the series as the junior left-handed duo of Sam Moll (7-3, 2.45) and Erik Schoenrock (6-3, 2.72).

Here's Who's Hot
Everyone seems to be in a hitting groove after the 15-2 win Wednesday at Louisiana Tech, but here is the best of the best... Senior Michael Ratterree is 17-of-39 (.436) with seven home runs in the last ten games for a 1.026 slugging percentage. He's also drawn seven walks for a .511 on-base percentage, recorded a team-best 17 RBI, scored 15 times and had a stolen base. Ratterree hit the 30th home run of his career last Sunday at UAB... You read in this space last time to "keep an eye on junior third baseman Shane Hoelscher," and that still stands. After a four-hit night at La Tech the Belton, Tex., native is now 12-for-26 (.462) with a .517 on-base percentage. He's scored six times, driven-in four runs and stolen base in the last six games... Junior DH Michael Aquino also had a four-hit night Wednesday. Aquino is now 7-for-his-last-10 with a home run and two doubles for a 1.200 slugging percentage, and he has six RBI in the back-to-back wins... Senior Geoff Perrott is 9-for-his-last-19 (.474) with four doubles, a triple and four RBI in the last five games. The Kingwood, Tex., native owns a .524 on-base percentage during the current stretch... Junior leftfielder Keenan Cook is batting .417 (10-for-24) with seven runs scored and five RBI over the last six games... Senior second baseman Christian Stringer is 10-for-his-last-22 (.455) with five doubles a home run for an .818 slugging percentage. He also has drawn three walks and scored seven times in the last five games. The "Here's Who's Hot" slection committee did NOT deduct style points for his basepath flop on the way to first Wednesday night at La Tech.

Previous Outing: Owls Get Offensive To Defeat La Tech 15-2
RUSTON, La. - The Rice duo of Michael Aquino and Shane Hoelscher had four hits each as the Owls baseball team posted new season-highs in runs (15), hits (21) and doubles (8) on the way to a 15-2 road victory at Louisiana Tech Wednesday night in Ruston, La... Rice got offensive for its highest hit total since the opening game of the 2011 NCAA Regional (22 vs. Alcorn State). Seven different Owls had at least two hits in the contest and it wasn't just soft singles. Six players hit a total of eight doubles to go along with two home runs. The result was the Blue & Gray scored runs in seven of the nine innings... The Owls' top three hitters in the order, Leon Byrd, Christian Stringer and Michael Ratterree combined for eight runs scored while Aquino drove-in a career-high five runs on four hits... Almost lost in all the offensive fireworks was a solid start on the mound by true freshman Kevin McCanna. The right-hander from Houston allowed two runs in 6.0 innings while tying a career-high with five strikeouts. Relievers Matt Ditman and Tyler Spurlin were just as sharp out of the bullpen to finish out the final three scoreless frames... Rice improved to 32-15 with its sixth win in the last seven games. La Tech fell to 16-33 overall... The Owls set the tone by quickly jumping on the board for a run in the top of the first. Stringer lined a hard shot to the right side that the Bulldogs were able to touch, but only deflect away. The senior second baseman alertly hustled his way to scoring position for a one-out double. Ratterree followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 advantage... La Tech came right back and tied it in the bottom of the first. Bulldog catcher Tyler Qualls hit a one-out homer to right to make it 1-1... The Owls responded with a longball of their own to regain the lead. Ford Stainback started the second inning with a single before Skyer Ewing blasted a one-out pitch over the 13-foot high wall in left field. His fourth homer of the season gave Rice a 3-1 lead it would not relinquish... Both teams added a run in the third. For Rice, Keenan Cook sprinted to stretch a single to right-center into a double. His heads-up play turned into a run as Hoelscher followed with an RBI single. The Bulldogs tallied a run in their half, but that was after loading the bases with no outs. The Blue & Gray turned a double-play that helped keep the score at just 4-2... Rice then went deep again for two more runs in the fourth. Geoff Perrott reached with leadoff single and Stringer drove a pitch out of the park to right. His first round-tripper stretched the margin to 6-2. The Owls broke the game wide-open with a five-run sixth that featured three doubles. Three more runs in the seventh, and one final run in the ninth, finished the night at 15-2.

The Long Haul
Rice's 2-0 win in 17 innings at Hawaii on February 22 is tied for the third-longest game in C-USA history.  It was the most innings played since Cincinnati and Kentucky played 17 in 1999.  Here's a look at the longest contests in the league by the number of innings:
22.0    Houston vs. Baylor    2-21-99
21.0    Memphis vs. Evansville    3-7-99
17.0    Cincinnati vs. Kentucky    5-5-99
17.0    Rice vs. Hawaii    2-22-13
16.0    UCF vs. Monmouth    3-9-08
16.0    Houston vs. Memphis    4-23-06
16.0    Cincinnati vs. USF    4-22-00

Six FOX Games This Season
HOUSTON - Six Rice games this season are FOX television games, either on Fox College Sports of Fox Sports Net. Rice's six FOX games are as follows:
March 28 (Thur.) Fox Sports Net; Rice def. Tulane 4-2
April 12 (Fri.) Fox College Sports; UCF def. Rice 5-1
April 16 (Tue.) Fox College Sports; Rice def. Texas Tech 11-2
April 20 (Sat.) Fox Sports Net; Rice def. Houston 4-0
May 10 (Fri.) Memphis at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports
May 16 (Thur.) Marshall at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports
The Owls have already had a number of its games on TV this season. All three games from the Astros Foundation Classic at Minute Maid Park were televised taped-delayed. In February three of the Owls' games played at Hawaii were televised lived throughout the 50th state.

Rice 14th In Average Home Attendance
Through 22 home games Rice has averaged more than 3,300 fans at Reckling Park. The Owls are 14th in the nation in average home attendance. Here are the latest national attendance leaders (by home average).
1. LSU 10,811
2. Arkansas 8,251
3. Ole Miss 7,840
4. South Carolina 7,385
5. Mississippi State 7,346
6. Texas 5,785
7. Clemson 4,739
8. Florida State 4,618
9. Texas A&M 4,478
10. Florida 3,585
11. TCU 3,500
12. Alabama 3,319
13. Hawaii 3,317
14. Rice 3,307

Rice Also 21st In Total Home Attendance
Rice baseball has drawn almost 73,000 fans for 22 home games. That's also the 21st highest attendance total in the country.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 12-5 in its all-white uniforms, 4-3 in the pinstripes, 7-5 in all-gray, 5-1 in blue tops with white pants and 4-1 in blue tops with gray pants.

Postseason Streak At 18-Straight, Looking For 19
The Rice baseball program's 18-straight appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship is the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) has made the field for the 40 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (35) and Cal State Fullerton (21). Rice's 18-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is the sixth-longest national postseason streak in Division I history.

18-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice has clinched 18-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 41 wins in 17 of the last 18 years.

Conference Championship Streak At 17-Straight
Rice has won or shared a total of 17-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and seven Conference USA titles in as many years... In 2012 Rice won the C-USA regular season championship on the last day of the league's 24-game schedule. The Owls and UCF were tied for first in the C-USA standings heading into the final game of the season. The Blue & Gray clipped the Knights 5-2 to welcome the program's 17th championship to the family.

The C-USA Favorites
IRVING, Tex. - With three preseason all-conference players, including the duo of junior Austin Kubitza and Christian Stringer as the 2013 Preseason Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively, the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll the C-USA office announced... Stringer and Kubitza (season info provided above) are joined by fellow Owl Michael Ratterree on the preseason All-Conference USA team, giving Rice a league-high-tying three selections. Ratterree posted a .407 slugging percentage last season with 20 extra-base hits (13 doubles, one triple and six home runs). The local standout from Memorial High School drew a team-high 42 walks, giving him a .378 on-base percentage. He also drove in 33 runs and unselfishly moved to a new defensive position in the outfield to better-help the team... Under the direction of head coach Wayne Graham Rice returns four of the nine starters in the batting order and a host of veteran pitchers from a year ago. The Owls also have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring.

2013 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS (selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (7)
2. Southern Miss (1)
3. East Carolina
4. UCF
5. Tulane (1)
6. Memphis
7. Houston
8. UAB
9. Marshall
(first place votes in parentheses)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Christian Stringer, Rice (Senior, Infielder)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Austin Kubitza, Rice (Junior, Right-hander)

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
P Austin Kubitza, Jr., Rice
P Sam Moll, Jr. Memphis
P Andrew Pierce, Sr., Southern Miss
RP Bradley Roney, So., Southern Miss
C Ryan Breen, Sr. UCF
IF Garrett Cannizaro, Sr., Tulane
IF Brennan Middleton, Sr., Tulane
IF Jack Reinheimer, Jr., East Carolina
IF Christian Stringer, Sr., Rice
IF Chris Taladay, Sr., UCF
OF Landon Appling, Jr., Houston
OF Brandon Boudreaux, Sr., Tulane
OF Michael Ratterree, Sr., Rice
OF Mason Robbins, So., Southern Miss
DH/UT Drew Reynolds, Jr., East Carolina

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 14 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2012. These totals do NOT include games played in 2013:
Team    Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
Florida State    701-244-1 (.742)
Rice    676-240-0 (.738)
Coastal Carolina    615-253-0 (.709)
North Carolina    635-262-1 (.708)
Oral Roberts    599-249-0 (.706)
Texas    644-269-1 (.705)
South Carolina    661-281-0 (.702)
Arizona State    567-244-1 (.699)
Cal State Fullerton    615-265-0 (.699)
Miami    601-269-3 (.690)
Wichita State    633-301-0 (.678)
Georgia Tech    589-281-1 (.677)
LSU    605-294-5 (.672)
Stanford    568-292-2 (.660)
Tulane    570-295-2 (.659)
Nebraska    562-291-2 (.658)
Clemson    601-316-1 (.655)
East Carolina    555-295-1 (.653)
Notre Dame    542-298-5 (.644)
Florida    564-320-2 (.638)

Owls In "The Show" This Season
The Owls' list of major league players for 2013 includes Lance Berkman (Rangers), Tony Cingrani (Reds), Philip Humber (Astros), Paul Janish (Braves), Lucas Luetge (Mariners) and Jeff Niemann (Rays), Anthony Rendon (Nationals) and Joe Savery (Phillies).


 

 

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