Owls No. 1 Seed In C-USA Championship This Week

May 22, 2012

  • PDF of Rice's latest pregame release
  • LINK to the C-USA Baseball Championship homepage
  • LISTEN to all Rice games via the Internet audio home page

    May 23 (Wed.) 3 pm; Rice vs. Houston
    Watch the game on the web by upgrading to the C-USA Digital Network package
    GameTracker (activates at game time)

    May 24 (Thurs.) 7 pm; Rice vs. Memphis
    Watch the game on the web by upgrading to the C-USA Digital Network package
    GameTracker (activates at game time)

    May 26 (Sat.) 7 pm; Rice vs. Southern Miss
    Watch the game on the web by upgrading to the C-USA Digital Network package
    GameTracker (activates at game time)

    May 27 (Sun.) 1 pm; Championship Final (between pool play winners)
    GameTracker (activates at game time)
    No webcast this game as Championship Final is televised by CBS Sports Network.

    Owls No. 1 Seed In C-USA Championship This Week
    The Rice baseball team, 39-15 on the year and Conference USA regular season champions with a 17-7 league record, is the No. 1 seed of the 2012 C-USA Championship this Wednesday-Sunday (May 23-27). The Championship will be held Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi, and features the top eight teams in a pool play format. The winner of the Championship earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins June 1 at 16 regional sites across the country.

    Time For Pool Play
    The league's return to a pool play format in the C-USA Championship features a slight variation from the 2011 version. This year there are two four-team groups playing a set schedule of games for four days. There is no double-elimination in pool play, and each team gets one off day before Sunday's Championship Final. The team's with the best record from each pool advances to the Final... Rice meets eighth-seed Houston (17-33-1 overall, 5-18-1 C-USA) on Wednesday at 3 pm. The Owls then face five-seed Memphis (29-26, 14-10) on Thursday at 7 pm. Rice's pool play concludes with a 7 pm game against fourth-seed Southern Miss (30-23, 14-10) on Friday... The Championship Final of the 17th annual tournament will be one game on Sunday beginning at 1 pm. The Championship Final will be broadcast live by CBS Sports Network.

    Rice At The C-USA Championship
    Rice has had success in playing in the annual C-USA Championship. The Owls have won it four-of-six times and were second one other time. Here's a closer look at the Owls' C-USA tourney history.
    Year, Finish, Record
    2006, 1st, 4-0
    2007, 1st, 4-1
    2008, ---, 0-2
    2009, 1st, 4-0
    2010, 2nd, 3-1
    2011, 1st, 3-1

    Watch The Games On The Web by Upgrading to the C-USA Digital Network Package
    All games other than the championship game on Sunday are webcast, but you must upgrade your All Access subscription to the C-USA Digital Network to be able to watch them. Your Rice All Access will not work for these games. For more information, please go to this page and click on the Subscription Information on the lower right.



    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.

    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 1,858 - 1,485 - 9.

    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.

    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 before national postseason play the Owls are holding as a consensus Top 10 team and as high as fourth according to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), Baseball America and PerfectGame.com. Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:
    Poll, This Week, Last Week
    NCBWA, 4, 4
    Baseball America, 4, 5
    PerfectGame.com, 4, 5
    USA Today/ESPN, 7, 7
    Collegiate Baseball Magazine, 9, 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 951-376 with the Owls (573-135 at home, 288-189 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. this week's C-USA pool opponents is: 76-26 vs. Houston (43-8 home, 31-18 away, 2-0 neutral)... 20-6 vs. Memphis (8-2 home, 9-3 away, 3-1 neutral)... 16-8 vs. Southern Miss (9-4 home, 7-3 away, 0-1 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, 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 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.

    1,525 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
    Wayne Graham owns 951 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,525 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,525-489 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 Reaches 17-Straight
    After clinching the 2012 C-USA regular season title last weekend Rice has now won or shared a total of 17-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 seven Conference USA titles in as many years. The Blue & Gray won the 2012 C-USA title on the last day of the regular season with the program's best conference record in two years.

    Probable Rice Pitchers
    Wayne Graham announced the Owls' first two probable starting pitchers for the C-USA Championship as the right-handed duo of redshirt junior Andrew Benak (7-2, 2.32) and sophomore Austin Kubitza (6-3, 3.17), respectively. Coach Graham will announce the other starters at a later time. Here are some quick bios on the Owls regular starting pitchers, including Benak, Kubitza, Matthew Reckling and John Simms:
    Andrew Benak has looked sound and solid this season, and he has been fantastic in more than a few of his 15 outings. In his previous start on May 15 (Tues.), Benak fired a career-long 7.1 innings in a 5-0 road victory over Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Tex. He scattered five singles with no walks while striking out nine. By the eighth inning only two Bearkat runners reached scoring position off the junior right-hander. The week before that at home against Stephen F. Austin (May 8), he fired a shutout over 7.0 frames 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 allowed 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 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings and has maintained a 4.2-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.
    • 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 14 appearances this season, including 13 times as the starting pitcher, Kubitza is 6-3 with a 3.17 ERA. He's struck out 57 batters in 65.1 innings. The Colleyville, Tex., native has held all opposing hitters to a composite .221 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, UCF, Texas, East Carolina, Florida International and Dallas Baptist. In his last eight starts the right-hander has maintained a 1.44 ERA, held hitters to a .195 average and struck out 37 batters in 43.2innings.
    • 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 8-2 with a 2.85 ERA. He has struck out 92 in 79.0 innings and held opposing hitters to an austere .178 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 34th as an Owl. His all-time Rice record in 62 career appearances is 15-6, and he is the career strikeouts leader among active players with 235.
    • A start for John Simms would be his fourth of the season and also his fourth in as many weekends. Simms was inserted into a starting role against Houston (May 6) after a series of quality relief outings. He worked 5.2 frames in that first start against UH, scattering three hits and three walks while striking out four. Overall Simms is now 5-0 with a 2.72 ERA and has held all opposing hitters to a composite .223 batting average. The Woodlands, Tex., native owns 52 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. Simms has been steady in his C-USA outings and he was sensational with season-long 6.0 innings of three-hit relief on the road against No. 2 ranked Texas A&M (Apr. 17)... The right-hander is not new to a starter's role. A year ago the standout from College Park HS was in fact the first Owl freshman to start on the mound on Opening Day since eventual first round major league draft pick Joe Savery earned the honor in 2005. Among a host of steady freshman starts was his 7.0 innings against Houston on May 8 where he allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four on the way to his third win of the season... Simms earned high school All-America honors at College Park and he was selected in the 2010 Major League draft by the Washington Nationals. He declined the pro offer and went on to pitch for the United States 18 & Under National Team over the summer of 2010. He enrolled at Rice in August and proved to be one of the top pitchers during the fall practices.

    Who's Hitting Well As of Late
    Freshman shortstop Ford Stainback went 4-for-4 with a double, run scored, RBI and stolen base in the finale of the UCF series... Sophomore third baseman Shane Hoelscher is 4-for-8 (.500) with a double, run scored and sacrifice bunt over the last two games... Senior catcher Craig Manuel is 3-for-7 (.429) with two runs, an RBI an sacrifice... Senior centerfielder Michael Fuda 5-for-14 recently (.357) with a home run, four RBI, four runs scored and three stolen bases. He's also been walked four times and hit by a pitch once for a .526 on-base percentage... In the last two UCF games Christian Stringer went a combined 3-for-8 (.375) with a double and three runs scored. He also drew a walk and was hit by pitch for a .500 on-base percentage.

    Rathjen & Reckling Named To C-USA All-Academic Team
    Matthew Reckling and Jeremy Rathjen have been named to the 2012 Conference USA All-Academic Baseball Team, the league announced Monday (May 21) from its headquarters in Irving, Tex... The C-USA all-academic team consists of student-athletes with a 3.2 cumulative grade point average or better and are a starter or key reserve for their team. The members were voted upon by the league's sports information directors. The announcement is two days before play begins in the 2012 C-USA Championship this week in Pearl, Miss. As Rice clinched the C-USA regular-season title, its 17th consecutive season with a conference regular-season and/or tournament crown, it placed two members on the league's all-academic team... Rathjen, who earlier this year was also selected to the Capital One Academic All-District Team, made a comeback from a season-ending injury in 2011 to start every game in 2012. The redshirt junior leads the Owls in home runs (9) and doubles (13) and he is second in hitting (.338) and RBI (39). A Houston native from Memorial High School, Rathjen maintained a 3.52 grade point average in Economics... Reckling is also a Houston native who stayed in his hometown to help the Owls earn a No. 4 national ranking by Baseball America. He is tied for the league lead in victories with eight. He averages 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings and has held all hitters to a composite .178 batting average on the season, lowest in the league. He was named C-USA Pitcher of the Week three times, more than any other player this season.

    Duffey Earns C-USA/National Pitching Honor
    One day after Rice junior pitcher Tyler Duffey was named the Conference USA Pitcher of the Week for May 20, Collegiate Baseball Magazine named him a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week... Duffey posted three dominant relief appearances, including two that helped Rice secure the regular season Conference USA title over the weekend at UCF. In his three outings the Owl right-hander totaled 5.1 innings pitched and did not allow a run nor a hit. More impressive, he struck out 13 of the 17 batters that he faced, including nine in a row at one point... Duffey fanned three batters in 1.2 innings in a shutout victory on the road at Southland Conference champion Sam Houston State on Tuesday (May 15). The Houston native then turned in a pair of brilliant performances in the two Owl wins at UCF. In the game two win on Friday he struck out all five batters he faced. On Saturday, Duffey struck out the side in the eighth and fanned the first batter in the ninth to give him nine-straight strikeouts of nine batters over a two-game span. The streak was snapped with a base-on-balls, and after an Owl fielding error on a fielder's choice play, UCF suddenly had two men on base and the potential tying run at the plate. Duffey was able to get the Knights to fly out, and he then fired a game-ending strikeout to preserve the 5-2 victory to help Rice take the regular season conference championship. The 2012 C-USA title is the program's 17th- consecutive conference championship going back to 1996... Duffey's 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), Jordan Stephens (pitcher, Mar. 12) and Ford Stainback (hitter, May 13).

    Previous Outing: Rice Clinches C-USA Regular Season Crown With 5-2 Victory at UCF on Saturday
    ORLANDO, Fla. - The Rice baseball team struck for an early lead on the way to a 14-hit attack and had some sound and solid work from three pitchers to defeat Conference USA foe UCF 5-2 in the final game of a weekend series Saturday afternoon on the road in Orlando, Fla. With the victory Rice won the conference's regular season championship on the last day of league play and extended its streak of winning conference championships to 17-straight years dating back to 1996... The Owls have now won or shared 17-consecutive conference championships (including regular season and/or tournament titles) dating back to its membership in three different leagues. For all of its experience garnering conference championship hardware, Saturday's showdown at nationally-ranked UCF was a little different. For the first time in C-USA history, winning the league's regular season title came down to the final day of the conference schedule with a winner-take-all game... Rice went right to work, scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Michael Fuda singled to center field and stole second to move into scoring position. He scored on Jeremy Rathjen's single up the middle for a 1-0 advantage... UCF responded with a run in the bottom of the inning. Ronnie Richardson and Darnell Sweeney started it off with back-to-back singles and the duo moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Taladay. Richardson scored on D.J. Hicks' sacrifice fly to make it 1-1... The Owls moved back in front in the top of the second. Geoff Perrott led off with a single and a Ryan Lewis sacrifice advanced him to scoring position. He scored on a Ford Stainback single and Christian Stringer followed with a base hit through the right side. Fuda's second base hit of the day scored Stainback and a 3-1 lead... The Blue & Gray took advantage of a UCF fielding error for a score in the fourth. Craig Manuel led off with a pinch-hit single and another Lewis sacrifice moved him up a station. Stainback followed with a single to get Manuel to third, but the senior catcher alertly hustled an extra 90 feet to home plate on a Knight fielding error in the outfield... Sophomore right-hander John Simms started on the mound for Rice and allowed just the one run in 5.1 innings of work. With a bend-but-don't-break resolve, Simms scattered seven singles and three walks while striking out two. He worked out of a base-loaded jam in the second and left runners in scoring position in the first, fourth and fifth... Simms was relieved by J.T. Chargois in the sixth, vwho worked out of danger to strand two men that inning. UCF used a Rice fielding error for a run in the bottom of the seventh. Taladay reached on a one-out dropped pop-up and Hicks followed with an RBI double down the right field line... Holding a narrow 4-2 margin and the title still very much up for grabs, Rice head coach Wayne Graham went to his bullpen for Tyler Duffey to pitch the final two frames. The junior standout from Bellaire picked up right where he left off in Friday night's 9-2 victory. Duffey struck out the side in the eighth, which seemed to spark the Owl offense to its final run in the top of the ninth for a 5-2 Rice margin... There was still the bottom of the ninth to finish. Duffey delivered again. He struck out the first batter in the ninth to give nine-straight strikeouts of nine batters over a two-game span. The streak was snapped with a base-on-balls, and after an Owl fielding error on a fielder's choice play, UCF suddenly had the potential tying run at the plate. Duffey got the Knights to fly out and then a game-ending strikeout to preserve the win, 5-2, for title No. 17... "It was a great pitching job by all concerned," said coach Graham. "Duffey was phenomenal. He was the man this series. I don't know if we've had a better relief performance than that. It really was phenomenal. (Early runs) were critical," coach Graham added. "We did a good job of hitting to get the early runs, but then couldn't tack on any more until the very end. Hopefully we'll get some momentum (heading into the postseason) and that we get to be a national seed. That's the main thing."... There is excitement in any-late season game, and now heading into the postseason stretch. Tyler Duffey, for one, likes this time of year... "Last year we were in kind of the same situation, having to win two-of-three from Southern Miss on the last weekend of the season," Duffey said. "Today's game and series was pretty exciting. It has been a wild series (vs. UCF), after the weather delays and all. We played well. We earned it."

    Record At 54 Games
    Rice's 39-15 record is the program's best through 54 games since an identical 39-15 ledger in 2009. That 2009 Owl squad won the C-USATournament and went on to reach an NCAA Super Regional.

    Did You Know?
    The Owls are 34-1 when leading after the seventh inning. Credit some solid late-inning work by the Rice bullpen, including relievers Tyler Duffey, Zech Lemond, Taylor Wall, John Simms 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 131-37 (.780).

    Walk This Way!
    As a team the Owls are third in the conference with 257 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.

    17-Straight 40-Win Seasons, Looking For 18
    Rice is looking for an 18th-straight season 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.

    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).

    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 2.27 ERA in a total of 35.2 innings over 23 appearances and held all opposing hitters to a composite .214 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, 11-3 in all-gray and 3-3 in blue tops with gray pants.

    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).

    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)

    Welcome Back Rice Baseball Alumni
    Over 100 Rice baseball lettermen, from as far back as the 1940s to the recent College World Series teams, were on hand Feb. 4 at Reckling Park as the Rice Owls baseball program celebrated its rich heritage with its biennial Alumni Weekend... A host of former players, many still playing professionally and some who were in the major leagues in 2011 like Joe Savery and Lance Pendleton, came home to Reckling Park to renew friendships and see old teammates. There may have been a little rain, but it was a fun day for all. Check out the video of the Baseball Alumni Fan Fest at RiceOwls.com

    On Deck
    The 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament, as well as the event's national seeds, will be announced on Monday, May 28.

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