Owls Host Houston Tuesday To Open Four-Game Homestand

May 9, 2016

The Rice baseball team, 31-14 overall and ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation this week by D1Baseball.com, returns to Reckling Park to play the final four regular season home games on the schedule. The Owls host crosstown rival Houston on May 13 (Tues.) at 6:30 pm. The contest is the second installment of three regular season games against the Cougars (27-19 overall). Rice then returns to Conference USA league play May 13-15 (Fri.-Sun.). The Blue & Gray host a key three-game weekend series vs. nationally-ranked Florida Atlantic. Game times vs. the FAU Owls are set for 7 pm on Friday, 2 pm Saturday, and 12 noon Sunday. Rice enters the week tied with Southern Miss for first place in the C-USA standings. There is almost no margin for error in the six remaining league games.

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.

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.

Watch Home Game Online Via OwlVision All-Access
Most 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.

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.

National Rankings Update • Owls Ranked As High As No. 13
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
D1Baseball.com              13        14
Baseball America            14        14
College Sports Madness      16        16
Collegiate Baseball         18        21
College Baseball Central    19        21
PerfectGame.com             20        22
USA Today/ESPN              21        --
NCBWA                       27        --

NCAA RPI at No. 22
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. 22 RPI in the nation heading into this weekend. Rice is among three C-USA schools ranked in the current RPI top 35.

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 1,107-456 with the Owls (661-169 at home, 348-218 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 82-32 vs. Houston, and 7-0 vs. Florida Atlantic... 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.

1,682 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,107 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,682 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham’s overall “collegiate record” is 1,682-569 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 1,100 Division I wins.

Possible Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham will announce Rice’s starting pitchers for the upcoming four-game homestand at a later time.

Fox Named C-USA Pitcher of the Week
IRVING, Texas – Rice’s Blake Fox has been named the Conference USA Pitcher of the Week for May 2-8, the league office announced Monday (May 9) from its headquarters in Irving, Texas... Fox posted the best game of his collegiate career, a complete-game, six-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts to help lead Rice to a 3-0 Conference USA road victory at FIU on Saturday. The left-hander from Bellaire, Texas, held the Panthers to five singles and one double on the way to his first complete game (as well as the first 9.0 inning shutout) of his Rice career. Not only did Fox not allow any walks, only three of the 31 batters he faced reached as many as three balls in the count. Only three FIU batters reached second base against the preseason C-USA Pitcher of the Year, including two that were in the first and second innings before being retired without any damage. Then after a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh, Fox ended that threat with one of his 10 strikeouts. The Owl defense turned a textbook 6-4-3 double-play to end the game after FIU had a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth. The victory was Fox’ 30th overall at Rice, moving him into a tie for fifth place on the school’s all-time list for wins. This is his third career C-USA weekly honor, and the first since May 19, 2014.

Previous Game: Have Mercy! Rice Defeats FIU Sunday 12-1
Miami, Fla. – The Rice baseball team scored in each of the first six innings on the way to a 12-1 Conference USA road victory that was shortened to just seven innings Sunday afternoon in Miami, Fla... The Owls completed the three-game sweep of the weekend series to remain in at least a tie atop the C-USA standings with an 18-6 league record. Rice improved to 31-14 overall with its sixth-straight win, a full two games better than the squad’s record at the same point a year ago. FIU is now 22-27 on the season and 9-15 in conference... Rice quickly jumped on the scoreboard for three runs in the top of the first inning. Ryan Chandler and Dane Myers drew back-to-back walks to start it off and both scored on Ford Proctor’s triple off the wall in right-center. Dominic DiCaprio followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0, but the offense wasn’t quite finished on the day... In the next inning Myers drew a one-out walk and sprinted to third on a Proctor single. The duo executed a double steal with Myers touching home and Proctor taking second. Consecutive singles by DiCaprio and Gray made it 5-0... The Owls would go on to add a run in the third, two more in the fourth, one in the fifth and three in the sixth to extend the margin to 12-0. FIU got on the board with its lone run in the bottom of the sixth, but a scoreless seventh ended the contest as per the C-USA travel rule... Rice finished the day with 14 hits. DiCaprio, playing in his home state of Florida, went 4-for-6 with two runs scored and an RBI. Proctor and Gray both registered three hits each... Sophomore right-hander Ricardo Salinas meanwhile was in control on the mound in his 11th start of the season. After firing 5.0 shutout innings where he scattered three hits with one walk, the Owl bullpen was given a chance to get some work. Miami native Evan Kravetz allowed just one hit while striking out one in 1.2 innings. Salinas improved to 7-1 overall.

Here’s Who’s Hot
By Sunday FIU was finally able to hold Charlie Warren to a walk and sac bunt, but the junior outfielder is still 8-for-his-last-14 (.571) with four walks for a .667 on-base average... Sophomore CF Ryan Chandler has been a force behind the current five-game win streak, going a combined 9-for-19 (.474) with five runs scored, four RBI, two doubles and a triple for a .684 slugging percentage. He’s also drawn three walks (.522 OB%), stolen a base, had a sac fly and sac bunt... Tristan Gray’s recent hitting spree has similar results, only with a larger sample size. The sophomore left fielder is now 26-of-55 (.473) over the last 15 games with a steady seven RBI and seven runs scored. He also has four doubles and two triples for a .618 slugging percentage... True freshman Ford Proctor tallied his fourth three-hit game of the season, and the 13th multi-hit game of his collegiate career, Sunday at FIU. In his last 13 games the shortstop from Beaumont, Texas, native is 22-for-49 (.449) with four doubles and a triple for a .571 slugging percentage. Proctor has also maintained a steady .491 on-base average, scored 10 times and stolen two bases in his recent hitting stretch... Fellow freshman Dominic DiCaprio has had a titanic hitting surge. The rookie DH is now 23-of-56 (.411) with nine runs scored in his last 15 games played. He slugged the first triple of his collegiate career last week against Lamar.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice’s 2016 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
10-4 in all-white
8-5 in pinstripes
6-1 in blue tops with pinstripe pants
6-4 in gray ‘birds’ tops
1-0 in blue tops with white pants

Otto On Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Otto is one of 40 players on the midseason watch list for the annual Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top Division I relief pitcher by National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the organization announced... Otto was named to the award’s preseason watch list in February and has been sensational for the Owls in 2016. The sophomore right-hander has posted eight saves as well as a 6-1 record in 24 appearances. He has maintained a 1.28 ERA in 49.1 innings and held opposing hitter to a combined .191 batting average. Otto averages an eye-opening 10.2 strikeouts per 9.0 innings with a 5-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio... A native of Spring, Texas, Otto is one of four Conference USA pitchers on the award’s midseason watch list. The SEC led the way with five players on the list while Pac-12 had four and the ACC had three. A total of 20 different conferences were represented... The NCBWA will announce five finalists for the 2016 Stopper of the Year – the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts – on Wednesday, June 8, prior to the start of NCAA Super Regional competition. The NCBWA’s All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year’s recipient to be announced during the 2016 College World Series... The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation’s top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I and III Players of the Week, Division I District Players of the Year and Division III Players of the Year.

Proctor Makes Watch List For Shortstop of the Year Award
LUBBOCK, Texas – Rice true freshman Ford Proctor has been added to the midseason watch list for Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award, presented annually by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame... The Owl rookie has worked his way into 40-consecutive starts at shortstop, and 44 games at short overall, where he is batting a steady .342 with a .429 on-base percentage. Proctor has scored 26 runs, driven-in 23 and is second on the squad with five stolen bases.

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 209-67 (.757).

Kopy That
He may have had a rough start to the season offensively, but senior catcher Hunter Kopycinski is now 16-for-his-last-71 (.225) with nine walks for a .313 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 25 of the last 26 games behind the plate where the Owls are 21-5. In this stretch where Kopycinski has caught almost each of the last 229.1 innings, the Rice pitching staff has enjoyed a composite 1.77 ERA with him behind the plate.

Myers & Otto On 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... 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 45 games at third base. He owns a .257 batting average, leads the Owls with four triples and 29 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 eight appearances on the mound this season, Myers has notched four saves, maintained a 3.21 ERA, held opposing hitters to a .216 average and struck out 14 in 14.0 innings of work... Otto is the squad’s leader with eight saves. The stopper from Spring, Texas, owns an austere 1.28 ERA, held opposing hitters to a composite .191 average and been Rice’s winning pitcher six times. He has struck out 56 batters in 49.1 innings, an eye-opening 10.2 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 was eventual major leaguer Josh Rodriguez vs. Miami-Ohio in 2004. As a team Rice had three triples in the May 4 win vs. Lamar, including two in one inning.

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
March 22, 2016
Cougar Field
Great Dane! Owls Defeat No.16 U.H. 7-4
Sophomore Dane Myers went 2-for-4 with two RBI at the plate, as well as pitch 3.0 scoreless innings in relief, to help lift the Rice baseball team to a dramatic 7-4 victory over No. 16 ranked Houston Tuesday evening across town at UH.





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