Owls Play Four Big Road Games This Week

May 14, 2012

  • LISTEN to all Rice games via the Internet audio home page

    May 15 (Tues.) 6:30 pm; Rice at Sam Houston State
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    May 17 (Thur.) 5:30 pm; Rice at UCF
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    May 18 (Fri.) 5:30 pm; Rice at UCF
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    May 19 (Sat.) Noon; Rice at UCF
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    All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.

    Owls Hit The Road For Final Games of Regular Season
    The No. 4 ranked Rice baseball team, 36-14 overall and tied for first place in Conference USA with a 15-6 league record, closes out the 2012 regular season with four road games this week. The Owls first play at longtime state rival Sam Houston State (34-16 this season) on Tuesday at 6:30 pm. Rice travels to Orlando, Fla., to meet conference foe UCF on May 17-19 and finish the C-USA schedule and regular season. Game times against the Knights, 40-12 and co-leading the league with Rice at 15-6, are set for 5:30 pm on both Thursday and Friday, and 12 noon on Saturday. All times listed here are Central Time.



    Yeah, They're Big!
    It's a big week of games for Rice baseball. The Owls get a rematch with a Sam Houston State team that defeated Rice in Reckling Park by a narrow score of 2-1 on April 3. Since that game the Bearkats have gone on to claim the regular season championship of the Southland Conference... Rice and UCF meanwhile currently share first place in the conference standings and this week's series-winner clinches the regular season title and No. 1 seed of the upcoming C-USA Championship next week in Pearl, Miss.

    Watch Rice's C-USA Games On OwlVision All Access
    This week's Conference USA league 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). The service has been growing in popularity the last few years. Information about the service and subscription prices are available here. Access the service on game day at the above links.

    Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web & At The Park
    Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Use the above link to access the Internet audio page. Tune-in to the pregame show 30 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The FM frequencies for the in-stadium broadcasts this week will be available via Twitter on the day of the game.

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

    National Ranking Update • Five Top 10s; As High As No. 4
    Rice was ranked in the Top 10 of a host of different polls to start the 2012 campaign. Coming down the home-stretch for the regular season the Owls are holding as a consensus Top 10 team and as high as fourth according to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:

    Poll This Week Last Week
    NCBWA 4 6
    Baseball America 5 5
    PerfectGame.com 5 6
    USA Today/ESPN 7 6
    Collegiate Baseball Magazine 9 8

    Rice University Centennial; 96th Season On The Baseball Field
    Rice University is celebrating its centennial in 2012. 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 2012 season is, however, only the Owls' 96th 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 1,855 - 1,484- 9.

    Head Coach Wayne Graham
    Four-time national coach of the year and soon-to-be 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 21st season at Rice. The 2012 campaign marks his 32nd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 948-375 with the Owls (573-135 at home, 285-188 in road games and 90-52 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .717, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .717 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's records vs. this week's opponents are: 31-14 vs. Sam Houston State (20-7 home, 11-7 away) and 18-6 vs. UCF (8-4 home, 7-2 away, 3-0 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2011, making 17-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. 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 and 2011 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 and `10... 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 Mike Taylor (Prairie View A&M, 1997; 12th year), Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; seventh year), and Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; first year)... On game days Hallmark coaches at third base while Van Hook coaches at first base.

    1,522 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
    Wayne Graham owns 948 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,522 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,522-488 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.

    Wayne Graham To Be Inducted Into College Baseball Hall of Fame
    HOUSTON - Only a few hours before the nationally-ranked Rice baseball team was to take the field against the University of Texas in Friday's final game of the College Classic Tournament (March 2), Owl head coach Wayne Graham was announced as one of seven inductees into College Baseball Hall of Fame later this summer... Coach Graham is part of an impressive class of inductees who will officially join the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Tex., on June 29-30. The 2012 inductees include Lou Brock, a Major League Hall of Famer who was a collegiate star at Southern University in 1958-60; Ed Cheff, who won 16 NAIA national championships coaching at Lewis Clark State from 1977-2010; Nomar Garciaparra, a three-time All-America selection at Georgia Tech who went on to make six all-star games during a 14-year major league career; Tim Jorgensen, a two-time Division III National Player of the Year and All-American at Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Brad Wilkerson, a three-time All-America selection and 1998 National Player of the Year from the University of Florida; and the late Frank Sancet, who coached at Arizona for 23 seasons where he led the Wildcats to the College World Series ten times... The Owls' head coach is already a member of three other Halls of Fame. Currently in his 21st year at the helm of the Rice program, and his 32nd as a collegiate head coach, Graham has already been inducted into the Junior College Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Col. (1995), the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in Fort Worth (2003) and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco (2005)... At Rice, Graham has led the Blue & Gray to an NCAA Regional for each of the last 17 years. Not only has the baseball program won at least 40 games in each of the last 17 seasons, Rice has won or shared 16-consecutive conference championships (including regular season and/or conference tournament titles). Rice has maintained the nation's best composite Division I baseball win-percentage (.742) since 1999, a comprehensive 13-year span that marks the first year the NCAA adopted its current 64-team/Super Regional format for the NCAA Tournament... "It's a unique event and I appreciate the honor very much," said coach Graham. "At a time like this you think about who helped get you there. The players who have performed well to allow you to have some success, but also my wife and family who have had to make a lot of sacrifices to make it possible for this to happen. I'm very grateful for everyone who has been involved... "It's a great honor to be associated with the other members of this Hall of Fame class," coach Graham added. "They are great baseball-people with a love and talent for the game."... Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said Graham's induction is well-deserved... "Wayne Graham's accomplishments throughout his career are obviously worthy of a place in the College Baseball Hall of Fame," Greenspan said. "His accomplishments at San Jacinto were legendary on their own merits and in his 21 seasons at Rice, he has created an exemplary program that has been dominant on the field and in the classroom." A National Board Member of the College Baseball Foundation, Greenspan noted that Graham's legacy continues to grow. "The 2012 Rice Owls are again among the best teams in the nation, adding yet another chapter to an amazing career."... Graham has long-been an example of coaching excellence, but he's far from finished.

    Probable Rice Pitchers
    Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitcher for Tuesday night's game against Sam Houston State as redshirt junior Andrew Benak (6-2, 2.61). The Rice starters for the remaining games this weekend will be finalized by Coach Graham at a later time.

  • Andrew Benak has looked sound and solid this season, and he has been fantastic in more than a few of his 14 outings. Last week at home against Stephen F. Austin (May 8), Benak fired a shutout over a career-long 7.0 innings to earn his sixth win of the season. He scattered seven hits with one walk while striking out eight. In a C-USA road win at Marshall (April 15), the Houston native fired 6.1 shutout innings for his fifth win. He scattered four hits with no walks while striking out nine, holding 25 Marshall batters to a composite .190 batting average. On Feb. 22 vs. New Mexico State, his first start of 2012 and only the fifth start of his collegiate career at the time, Benak dominated the NMSU hitters with 10 strikeouts in 5.1 innings for a win. The 6-foot-5 right-hander scattered just two singles and did not walk a batter. He struck out every batter in the lineup at least once and had one stretch of striking out 9-of-14. A week later against crosstown rival Houston (Feb. 28) he allowed an earned run on three hits over 5.0 innings while striking out four. On March 6 against Texas State he struck out 10 in 6.0 innings while allowing just one run on four hits and two walks. Against nationally-ranked Arizona (Mar. 13), Benak kept the explosive Wildcats off the scoreboard for 5.2 frames (where he picked up his third win of the season). He averages 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings and has maintained a 3.6-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio... Benak is a redshirt junior who has been sidelined for most of the past four years. It's been a long time in coming but now that he's finally healthy for the first time since a standout prep career at Langham Creek H.S., Benak has quickly made up for lost time. His outings in the 2011 fall training program were the first indication that a healthy Benak could prove to be a different pitcher than the one Rice (and opponents) had seen before. The lesson in Benak's comeback story is that Rice baseball (the coaches and his teammates) never gave up on Andrew Benak, and perhaps of equal importance is that Andrew Benak never gave up on Andrew Benak.
  • SHSU announced its starting pitcher as sophomore left-hander Cody Dickson (4-3, 2.95).

    Rathjen Named To National Academic All-District Team
    Junior right fielder Jeremy Rathjen has been named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District VII First Team, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced. CoSIDA's annual all-academic teams recognize the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. Not only is Rathjen batting .344 this season with a team-leading nine home runs and 37 RBI, he has maintained a 3.52 grade point average as an Economics major in Rice's accelerated curriculum. As a first team all-district honoree, Rathjen now has a chance to be named to the Capital One Academic All-America which will be announced later this month.

    Manuel Named To Final Watch List For John Bench Award
    Senior Craig Manuel was named one of 63 players on the national watch list for the annual Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com as the country's top Division I catcher. Manuel has played in 48 of the team's 50 games with 40 starts. The Owls' standout from Satellite Beach, Fla., is batting .275 for the season with a steady .364 on-base percentage. Manuel owns 10 games with two or more hits and has proved to be clutch situational hitter, going 4-for-6 when batting with the bases-loaded. He's an outstanding defensive catcher who has been error-free in the field and thrown-out 12 runners attempting to steal a base. The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission will name the award's national semifinalists on May 16.

    Chargois Named To Watch List For National Stopper of the Year
    Rice junior J.T. Chargois has been named to the midseason watch list for the annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, presented to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball, the NCBWA announced... Chargois notched his Conference USA-leading eighth save of the season with a dramatic shutout inning of work to close out Rice's thrilling 5-4 upset of No. 2 ranked Texas A&M on April 17 on the road in College Station. The right-hander from Sulphur, La., struck out both of the final two batters of the game to stop an Aggie rally with two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth inning. Chargois has also posted saves against Stanford, Tulane, Texas State, Marshall, New Mexico State and Dallas Baptist (twice). He has maintained a 2.38 ERA in a total of 34.0 innings over 22 appearances and held all opposing hitters to a composite .212 batting average... Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information/media relation contacts and more than 90 nominations were received. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as finalists and released June 6 prior to start of NCAA Super Regional tournament competition. The NCBWA's All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced during the 2012 College World Series... Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006, Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007, Georgia's Joshua Fields topping the field in 2008, San Diego State's Addison Reed grabbing the honor in 2009, Texas' Chance Ruffin earning the honor in 2010 and Texas freshman Corey Knebel winning it last season... 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. For more information on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, contact Tami Cutler at Wichita State at 316-978-5559 or Russ Anderson at Conference USA at 214-774-1300.

    Record At 50 Games
    Rice is 36-14 overall, the team's best record through 50 games since a 39-11 ledger in 2008. That 2008 Owl squad went on to reach the semifinals of the College World Series.

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