Rice Baseball Meets Southeastern Louisiana Friday In NCAA Tournament

June 2, 2016

Watch: ESPN3 Stream

The Rice baseball team, 35-22 overall and rated as high as No. 21 in the nation in the latest D1Baseball rankings, is back in the NCAA Tournament this week as regional play begins Friday (June 3) at 16 sites across the country. The Owls travel to Louisiana for the second time in two weeks for the four-team Baton Rouge Regional. The Blue & Gray is the No. 2 seed of a four-team group that consists of No. 8 national seed and host LSU (42-18), No. 3 regional seed Southeastern Louisiana (39-19) and No. 4 seed Utah Valley (37-21).

Rice Plays Southeastern Louisiana on Friday Night
The Owls face the Southeastern Louisiana Lions at 7 pm on Friday in the double-elimination tournament format. LSU and Utah Valley play at 2 pm. The game times for both Saturday and Sunday (June 4-5) are also scheduled for 2 pm and 7 pm, with the early games serving as an elimination game. If the Regional champion has not been determined after Sunday night’s possible championship game, there will be one extra game played on Monday (June 6) at 7 pm if necessary.

Watch The Regional Action On ESPN3
Every game of the Regional is scheduled for broadcast on ESPN3. Broadcasters Lyn Rollins (play-by-play) and former No. 1 overall Major League Draft pick Ben McDonald (analysis) have the ESPN3 call this weekend. Fans can also enjoy Bases Loaded Coverage of each day’s Regional action on ESPNU, which will “look-in” live on different host sites all weekend.

What’s After The Regionals?
The 16 Regional winners advance to play in one of eight best-of-three Super Regionals getting under way the following week (June 10-12). The LSU Regional is paired with the Raleigh, N.C., Regional. The 70th College World Series begins play the week after that, (June 18) in Omaha, Nebraska.

Play-By-Play Audio On The Web
Every Rice baseball game is scheduled for a live audio broadcast on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before first pitch. J.P. Heath is in his eighth season as the voice of the Owls.

National Ranking
Rice is the No. 21 team in the nation according to D1Baseball.com.

NCAA RPI at No. 24
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. 24 RPI in the nation heading into the weekend. Rice is among four C-USA schools ranked in the current RPI top 32.

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.

National Postseason Streak At 22-Straight
Rice baseball’s 22-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation’s fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. Each of the top four streaks of making the NCAA Tournament are all of the active variety. In 2016 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 44th-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (39) and Cal State Fullerton (25).

Rice In The NCAA Tourney
Rice has played 129 total games in the NCAA Tournament since 1995, including Regionals, Super Regionals and the College World Series. All of the program’s NCAA Tournament games have been under the direction of head coach Wayne Graham. His (and the program’s) record in the “The Dance” is 80-49 (.620).

Against This Year’s Field
If you want to find about almost one-sixth of the entire NCAA Tournament field then just ask Rice. This year the Owls have already played 26 games against ten different teams in The Dance. The Blue & Gray won a total of 12 games against programs in the current 64-team NCAA Tournament field.

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 1,111-464 with the Owls (662-171 at home, 348-222 on the road and 101-71 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .705, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham’s .705 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 114 games in a single year... Graham is 0-0 vs. Southeastern Louisiana, 7-5 vs. LSU, and 0-0 vs. Utah Valley... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2016, making 22-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16. 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.

1,686 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,111 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,686 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham’s overall “collegiate record” is 1,686-577 in a 35-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Possible Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham will officially announce Rice’s starting pitchers for the
NCAA Regional at a later time. Here’s an updated look at some of the weekend starters from the regular season listed in alphabetical order.
• Veteran Jon Duplantier (7-6, 3.06 ERA) has been sound and solid in his 16 appearances (15 starts) this season, working at least 6.0 innings in all but two outings for a team-leading total of 106.0 frames. The Katy, Texas, native averages an eye-opening 12.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings with a 3.5-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He’s faced five nationally-ranked teams six times in Arizona, Arkansas, East Carolina, Louisiana Tech (twice) and Southern Miss (twice). Against UCF (March 4) Duplantier allowed just one hit in 8.0 innings while striking out 14. He was named both the C-USA Pitcher of the Week and National Pitcher of the Week (according to CollegeSportsMadness.com). He then picked up the league pitching honor a second time for his first complete game, a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts and no earned runs against Old Dominion (March 25). He notched his sixth game with double-digit strikeouts vs. eventual conference champ FAU (May 13), and the weekend before fired 8.1 shutout innings at heavy-hitting FIU (May 6). For the year he’s held opposing hitters to an austere .196 composite batting average. No matter if the 6-foot-4 right-hander is pitching at home, away, or at a neutral site, there are always a host of MLB scouts and cross-checkers tracking his every pitch.
When he’s not playing first base!!...senior Blake Fox has pitched well in his 15 starts. Four weeks ago at FIU (May 7) was the best of his long career, firing a complete game, six-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts to earn C-USA Pitcher of the Week honors. In the opener of the April 16 double-header vs. Western Kentucky the left-hander allowed just two runs in 8.0 innings while recording nine strikeouts. The Houston native held heavy-hitting, and eventual NCAA Tournament-bout, Louisiana Tech to just one run on three hits while striking out seven. For the full season Fox has maintained a 2.76 ERA and held opponents to a composite .238 batting average in 6.2 innings per start. A closer look reveals that in 12 of his 15 starts his offensive teammates have supported him with only a .198 composite batting average and just 2.1 runs per game. For his collegiate career, Fox is 30-9 with a 2.55 ERA in 321.2 collegiate innings. He is the Rice’s active leader in career appearances (65), starts (47) and strikeouts (234).
Ricardo Salinas has grown into his role as a weekend starter, particularly the critical C-USA portion of the regular season. During a stretch of nine-consecutive starts (the series finale vs. East Carolina and eight other league opponents) the Houston native was among the best in the conference. He enters the postseason with an 8-2 record, a 3.72 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 75.0 innings. He posted a new career-long outing with a 9.0-inning complete game two-hit shutout vs. UAB (April 10). Earlier he was named the March 14 C-USA Pitcher of the Week with 8.0 shutout frames against No. 16 ranked East Carolina (March 13). Salinas registered a new career-high with nine strikeouts in his March 27 start against Old Dominion. A closer look at his early opponents is also in order. The sophomore right-hander’s first start was against national/Pac-12 powerhouse Arizona, followed by a weekend start against Top 10 foe TCU. In his time at Rice, Salinas is 11-4 overall with 18 starts in his collegiate career.

Previous Game: Southern Miss Edges Rice In C-USA Final, 3-2
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – It came down to a dramatic play at the plate with two away in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Rice baseball team was defeated by Southern Miss 3-2 in Sunday’s Championship Final of the Conference USA Tournament in Hattiesburg, Miss... Rice, which is now 35-22 on the season, saw its eye-opening streak of winning 20-straight conference championships (claimed during either the regular season or in the league’s postseason tournament) come to an end. In addition to 16 regular season titles won in two different leagues, the Owls have also won six C-USA Tournament titles in the last eleven years. The Blue & Gray have also won three WAC Tournament titles and the final SWC crown in 1996... Entering the 2016 C-USA Tournament as the No. 4 seed, the Owls certainly fought for a 21st-straight conference title all the way to the very end... Down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Rice staged one last rally. Tristan Gray led off with a single to right-center and Grayson Lewis punched a one-out base hit through the right side... Southern Miss got a big strikeout out for the second out of the inning to bring the crowd of almost 3,600 at USM’s Pete Taylor Park to their feet. Dayne Wunderlich followed with a double to the gap in left-center. Gray scored easily from second. Lewis was in motion from first with two outs and aggressively dashed for home. The Eagles made the defensive relay, a pair of relay throws in fact, and were able to apply the tag for the final out on a close play at the plate... Baseball proved it can also be a game of inches in a 3-2 final. Three Owls Jon Duplantier, Ford Proctor and Connor Teykl were named to the 2016 all-tournament team for a full week of solid play... Rice struck for the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Gray clubbed a leadoff double to right-center field. Walks to Teykl and Dominic DiCaprio loaded the stations. Wunderlich punched a one-out single into left for a 1-0 lead... The Owls had held the Southern Miss off the board over the first four frames, including stranding a runner at third in the third, and then getting a big double play with runners on first and second in the fourth. Rice was its own worst enemy with free passes leading to a Golden Eagle run in the fifth... Chuckie Robinson led off with a single, but consecutive walks loaded the bases with none away. Rice made a move to Duplantier out the bullpen to replace starter Willy Amador. Robinson alertly scored on a wild pitch to tie the game 1-1, but three strikeouts ended the threats without any further damage on the scoreboard... For good measure Duplantier then struck out the final two batters of the sixth after a runner reached base as a part of two Rice fielding errors in the inning. The right-hander from Katy, Texas, was in a groove piling up six strikeouts for his first 2.0 innings... Duplantier was in command, but USM touched him for the deciding run in the top of the eighth inning. Tim Lynch drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. He scored on a two-out double off the wall in left-center by Daniel Keating for the narrow 2-1 advantage that was the Eagles’ first lead of the day... Southern Miss is now 40-18 on the season. Each of the four meetings with USM this season was decided by a single run... A good sign for Rice’s national postseason prospects is the Owls finished the day with 10 ten hits. The Blue & Gray has reached double-digit hits six times in the last seven games.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice’s 2016 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
12-7 in all-white
6-3 in blue tops with pinstripe pants
8-6 in all pinstripes
8-6 in gray ‘birds’ tops
1-0 in blue tops with white pants

Here’s Who’s Hot
Senior second baseman Grayson Lewis came up big in both of the Owls’ two most-recent outings at the C-USA Tournament, going a combined 5-for-9 (.559) with a home run... Junior rightfielder Charlie Warren enters the NCAA Tournament at a 5-for-13 pace (.385) with three RBI in the last three games. In going back a little further, Warren is also 11-for-his-last-28 (.393) with three walks for a .429 on-base average... Junior leftfielder Dayne Wunderlich is 4-for-11 (.364) with a double and a home run for a .727 slugging percentage. He also has six RBI and four runs scored in the last three games. In the last six games, Wunderlich owns a steady .448 on-base percentage thanks to four walks and one HBP... Sophomore Tristan Gray hit safely in every game of the C-USA Tournament to go 7-for-22 (.318) with a home run and a double (.500 SLG%). The recently-converted first baseman scored a team-best nine runs in the five C-USA Tournament games.

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 210-71 (.747).

Kopy That
He may have had a rough start to the season offensively, but senior catcher Hunter Kopycinski went 6-for-17 (.353) with a home run, two sac bunts and two sac flys in the C-USA Tournament. 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 38 of the last 40 games behind the plate where the Owls are 26-14. He has tallied the better part of 359.0 innings with (mainly) Kopy behind the plate.

Duplantier & Proctor Headline Rice’s C-USA Honorees
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- On the eve of the 2016 Conference USA Baseball Championship Rice’s Jon Duplantier and Ford Proctor won major individual awards to headline a total of five Owls earning all-league accolades, the C-USA office announced on May 24... Duplantier was named the 2016 C-USA Pitcher of the Year while Proctor was named the league’s Freshman of the Year. Owls Glenn Otto and Ricardo Salinas also earned all-conference honors with their selection to the C-USA first team and second team, respectively. Rice rookie Dominic DiCaprio joined Proctor on the league’s All-Freshman team. Each thrived under the daily training and development program of Rice head coach Wayne Graham. All the award winners were selected on a vote of the conference’s head coaches, sports information directors and a media representative who covers each program.

All Good Things - Rice’s Streak of Conference Championships Ends at 20-Straight
Rice saw it’s streak of winning 20-straight conference titles come to an end on Sunday (May 29). The Owls had 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 covered 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 from 2006-2015. Here is a closer look at Rice’s title run the last 21 years:
Year    Conf.    Regular Season    Conf. Tourney
2016    C-USA         4th               2nd
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.

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


 

 

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