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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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Owls Travel To UCF For Crucial Three-Game C-USA Series
The Rice Owls baseball team, 37-14 this season and tied for first place in the Conference USA standings with a 15-6 league record, is on the road for a big three-game series against C-USA co-leader UCF (40-12, 15-6) on May 17-19. Game times with the Knights are set for 5:30 pm on both Thursday and Friday, and 12 noon in Saturday's series finale (all times listed are Central Time). Rice and UCF are tied atop the C-USA standings and the winner of this series clinches the No. 1 seed of the upcoming Conference Championship next week in Pearl, Miss.
Watch The Games On OwlVision All-Access
All 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 at RiceOwls.com.
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 at RiceOwls.com, where links go directly to the audio home page. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium via an FM proximity transmitter.
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.
Rankings 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 Baseball Season
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 1,856 - 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 949-375 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 record vs. UCF is 18-6 (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 new staff member Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; first year)... On game days Hallmark coaches at third base while Van Hook coaches at first base.
1,523 Wins A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 949 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,523 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,523-488 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.
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.
Conference Championship Streak At 16-Straight, Looking For 17
Rice has won or shared a total of 16-straight conference championships (including either regular season or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference, to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and six Conference USA titles in as many years. In 2011 the Blue & Gray tied for the C-USA regular season co-championship (with Southern Miss) on the final weekend of the regular season. The team then wenton to win the C-USA tournament title a week later in Pearl, Miss.
Who's Hitting Well As of Late
Not only is junior DH/first baseman J.T. Chargois is 7-for-his last-17 (.412) with two doubles, four RBI, three runs scored, a sacrifice bunt and sac fly, he has also drawn a walk and been hit by a pitch for a .450 on-base percentage... Senior catcher Craig Manuel is 5-for-12 (.417) with a home run, two RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. The Florida native has also drawn two walks and been hit by a pitch twice for a .563 on-base percentage... Sophomore third baseman Shane Hoelscher is 5-for-13 (.385) with two sac bunts, two runs scored and a stolen base in his recent hot-stretch... Left-handed hitting Keenan Cook has got the job done in a specific situational role. He's 2-for-2 with a double, three runs scored, a walk and a steal in his last three at bats (all against right-handed pitchers).
Probable Rice Pitchers
Wayne Graham announced the first two probable starting Owl pitchers to face UCF as the right-handed duo of senior Matthew Reckling (8-1, 2.45) and sophomore Austin Kubitza (5-3, 3.22), respectively. Coach Graham will announce the starting pitcher for Saturday's finale at a later time.
A year ago veteran Matthew Reckling was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 2011 June draft, but the 6-foot-4 right-hander returned to Rice for his senior season. The Owls are glad he did because he has been lights-out in 2012. This year Reckling is 8-1 with a 2.45 ERA. He has struck out 90 in 77.0 innings and held opposing hitters to an austere .172 batting average. Reckling averages 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings and earlier this year he fanned a career-high 13 in a single game. The former Kinkaid star has already been named the C-USA Pitcher of the Week three times, including a brilliant complete game one-hit shutout effort against East Carolina (April 20). Reckling's next start would be his 33rd as an Owl. His all-time Rice record in 61 career appearances is 15-5, and he is the career strikeouts leader among active players with 233.
There was a steady stream of preseason honors for Austin Kubitza, a third team 2012 preseason All-America selection by both Collegiate Baseball magazine and the College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). In 13 appearances this season, including 12 times as the starting pitcher, Kubitza is 5-3 with a 3.22 ERA. He's struck out 48 batters in 58.2 innings of work. The Colleyville, Tex., native has held all opposing hitters to a composite .226 batting average. So far in 2012 Kubitza has faced a rugged slate of opponents that includes five teams coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance, including Stanford, Texas, East Carolina, Florida International and Dallas Baptist. In his last seven starts the right-hander has maintained a 1.22 ERA, held hitters to a .198 average and struck out 28 batters in 37.0 innings.
UCF announced its weekend rotation as junior left-hander Chris Matulis (6-0, 2.73) on Thursday and sophomore right-hander Ben Lively (8-1, 2.97) on Friday. The Knights' Saturday starter will be announced at a later time.
Previous Outing: Rice Blanks Sam Houston State Tuesday Night
HUNTSVILLE, Tex. - Rice junior right-hander Andrew Benak fired a career-long 7.1 innings and the Owl bullpen held off a late charge to key a 5-0 road victory over Sam Houston State Tuesday evening at Don Sanders Stadium in Huntsville, Tex... Benak scattered five singles with no walks while striking out nine in a career-long 7.1 frames. By the eighth inning only two Bearkat runners reached scoring position off the junior right-hander. It was the kind of start Rice head coach Wayne Graham wanted to see in a key midweek contest against a Bearkat team that had already clinched the Southland Conference regular season championship... "Benak pitched a great game," said coach Wayne Graham. "He had three good pitches. He had the best change-up he's had this year... We weren't very lucky hitting," coach Graham added. "We got five runs, but we hit a lot more balls hard then that. It's a good RPI (Ratings Power Index) win, on the road."... Rice challenged for runs in the first and second inning before finally breaking through in the top of the fourth. J.T. Chargois and Shane Hoelscher started the inning off with singles through the right and left sides, respectively. The runners advanced on a text-book sacrifice bunt by Michael Aquino. Chargois trotted home on a single to left by Geoff Perrott for a 1-0 advantage... The Owls scored two more in the top of the sixth. Designated hitter Keenan Cook drew a one-out walk and stole second to move into scoring position. In Craig Manuel's pinch-hit at bat, the Bearkats had a wild pitch that allowed Cook to advance to third. Manuel was hit by a pitch then surprised the home team with a steal of second base that put two men in scoring position. Christian Stringer followed with a two-out single to left-center to score both runs and extend the Owls' lead to 3-0... Rice added two more runs on two hits and a couple of wild pitches in the top of the eighth to make it 5-0. There was still some drama to fight through in the bottom of the eighth. Bearkat right fielder Greg Olson led off with a single and Benak hit a batter with one away. The Owls went to the bullpen and issued a walk that loaded the bases... The Blue & Gray brought in a second reliever, Tyler Duffey, who ended the threat with a total of four pitches to get a strikeout and fly out. With a scoreless ninth Duffey was back in form... "It felt great out there," Benak said. "I thought I had command of all my pitches and I got the change-up working early which was nice. It was tight there, but we got some runs and it took a little pressure off. Our offense can come up big at any spot in the lineup."... The Owl duo of Stringer and Chargois each had two hits on the night. Rice is now 37-14 overall with six wins in the last seven games. The Bearkats are now 34-17 on the year.
Record At 51 Games
Rice is 37-14 overall, the team's best record through 51 games since a 40-11 ledger in 2008. That 2008 Owl squad went on to reach the semifinals of the College World Series.
Did You Know?
The Owls are 32-1 when leading after the seventh inning. Credit some solid late-inning work by the Rice bullpen, including relievers Tyler Duffey, Zech Lemond, John Simms, Taylor Wall and J.T. Chargois, as a few of the key contributors to the team's success.
Solid In C-USA Games
Since its first Conference USA baseball campaign in the spring of 2006, Rice's regular-season record in C-USA league games is now 129-36 (.782).
Stainback Named The C-USA Hitter of the Week for May 6-12
IRVING, Tex. - Rice freshman Ford Stainback has been named the Conference USA Hitter of the Week for May 6-12 the league office announced. Southern Miss junior Andrew Pierce has been named the C-USA Pitcher of the Week... Stainback had a strong week to help Rice grab a share of first place in the C-USA standings. In four games, the true freshman shortstop went a combined 9-for-18 (.500) with three doubles for a .667 slugging percentage. The Dallas native scored five runs, drove in three, and also drew a pair of walks and was hit by a pitch for a .571 on-base average. In the C-USA weekend series against UAB, he had three hits in a game-one win and went 4-for-4 in a game two victory with two doubles, two RBI and three runs scored... The weekly C-USA hitting honor is the first of the Stainback's career. His Owl teammates who have won or shared the league's weekly hitting/pitching honor include Matthew Reckling (pitcher, three times), Michael Fuda (hitter, Feb. 27) and Jordan Stephens (pitcher, Mar. 12)... Andrew Pierce threw his second complete game of the year and his first shutout with a three-hitter vs. East Carolina in the series opener on May 11. He fanned 11 and only one opposing runner reached second base.
Walk This Way!
As a team the Owls are third in the conference with 241 walks, but there's more than one way to "walk" on a college campus. Rice Baseball and the Athletics Department would like to acknowledge some special seniors who made a walk of a different kind on May 12 (Sat.) before the league game against UAB. Five seniors in the baseball program, Daniel Gonzales-Luna, Ryan Lewis, Craig Manuel, Jeremy Rathjen and Matthew Reckling participated in the University's graduation ceremony that morning before the two games got underway in the afternoon. The 2012 commencement ceremony was the 99th in school history.
20-Straight 30-Win Seasons
Rice has reached the 30-win plateau for 20-straight seasons. Only four other schools in the country have longer active streaks of having won at least 30 games: Miami-Fla. (now 42 years), Cal State Fullerton (now 38 years), Clemson (37 years) and Georgia Tech (now 30 years). Rice was the first of those teams to 30 wins in 2012.
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.
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.
Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 17-5 in its all-white uniforms, 6-4 in the pinstripes, 2-0 in blue tops with white pants, 10-2 in all-gray and 2-3 in blue tops with gray pants.
Postseason Streak At 17-Straight, Looking For 18
The Rice baseball program has made 17-consecutive appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship, which ranks as the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 39 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (34) and Cal State Fullerton (20). Rice's 17-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is tied for the seventh-longest national postseason streak in Division I history (with LSU, 1989-2005).
2012 C-USA Championship Tickets Now On Sale
IRVING, Texas - Tickets for the 2012 Conference USA Baseball Championship presented by Trustmark are on sale now. The eight-team tournament will be held Wed., May 23-Sun., May 27 at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., the home of the Mississippi Braves, class AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves in suburban Jackson, Miss. This will be the second-straight year that the C-USA Baseball Championship will be held at the neutral site... Tournament ticket packages include seats for all 13 games and are available in four different price ranges. Club seating is $120, dugout level seating is $100, field level seating is $80 and general admission seats are just $60. Tickets can be ordered through C-USA school ticket offices or by calling 1-888-BRAVES4. For complete details on the championship, please visit ConferenceUSA.com.... Trustmark Park, which opened April 18, 2005, has capacity for nearly 7,500 fans. There are 5,500 chair-back seats in the reserved seating areas. The grass berm beyond the outfield walls has room for an additional 2,000 general admission customers... The Farm Bureau Grill, beyond the right-field wall, is a full-service restaurant and there are nine baseball-themed concession stands that offer a wide variety of ballpark treats. Twenty-two luxury suites that seat between 16 and 20 fans are equipped with hardwood floors, a bar, flat screen TVs, refrigerator and sliding doors that open up to two rows of outdoor seats. The ballpark also includes a picnic pavilion in left field, 150 closed-circuit monitors positioned around the park televising the game and two merchandise shops... The 2012 Conference USA Championship will feature the top eight teams in regular-season league play. Those eight will be split into two four-team pools (or pods), with the winner of each pod playing in a single championship game. Teams will be assigned pods based on seed, which will be determined by the order of finish in regular-season conference play... Each team will be guaranteed to play three games. Teams in each pod will play two teams in its pod and one team outside its pod. The team with the best composite record in each pod will advance to the championship game. Two-way ties in a pod will be broken by head-to-head play. In case of a three-way tie, the highest seed will advance... Game times are 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the championship game slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The championship game will be nationally-televised by CBS Sports Network.
Seven For The Show
Seven former Rice players began this season on major league rosters. The 2012 list includes Lance Berkman (Cardinals), Tim Byrdak (Mets), Philip Humber (White Sox), Lucas Luetge (Mariners), Jeff Niemann (Rays), Joe Savery (Phillies) and David Aardsma (on the Yankees' disabled list).
17-Straight 40-Win Seasons, Looking For 18
A year ago Rice clinched its 17th-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 42 wins in 16 of the last 17 years.
Nation's Top Win Percentage From 1999-2011
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 maintained the nation's top win percentage at the end of 2011. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2011: (This list does not include any 2012 results.)
Team Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
Rice 635-221-0 (.742)
Florida State 651-227-1 (.741)
Oral Roberts 561-224-0 (.715)
Texas 614-247-1 (.713)
Coastal Carolina 573-234-0 (.710)
North Carolina 589-246-1 (.705)
Cal State Fullerton 579-244-0 (.704)
Arizona State 531-224-1 (.703)
South Carolina 612-261-0 (.701)
Miami 565-246-3 (.696)
Wichita State 598-276-0 (.684)
Georgia Tech 551-255-1 (.683)
LSU 558-276-5 (.668)
Clemson 566-288-1 (.663)
Nebraska 527-268-2 (.662)
Tulane 532-275-2 (.659)
Stanford 527-274-2 (.658)
East Carolina 519-271-0 (.657)
Notre Dame 511-271-5 (.652)
Coll. of Charleston 487-279-0 (.636)
Florida 517-300-2 (.632)
TCU 498-290-0 (.632)
Southern Miss 503-296-0 (.630)
Alabama 508-300-0 (.629)
Virginia 498-294-2 (.628)
The UCF series is only the second stop of a long stretch of road games for Rice.The Owls are on the road this whole week and next, until at least May 26 - and possibly one more day to May 27. Next week the Blue & Gray play at the C-USA Championship in Pearl, Miss. Note that pool play at the C-USA Tournament is May 23-26 and the event's championship final is set for May 27 (Sunday).