For the sixth time in the last eight years, Rice advanced to the super regionals with a 7-4 victory over Baylor in the championship game of the Houston Regional. The Owls will play the winner of tonight's Oklahoma-Wichita State finale at the Norman Regional.
Wayne Graham called on his closer to record the final two outs of the game, and Cole St. Clair induced two grounders to end the game and send the Owls through to the super regional against the winner of tonight's Oklahoma-Wichita State game. Owls win, 7-4.
Bryce Cox struck out the side around an infield single in the top of the eighth, and Rice continues to lead 7-4 in the bottom of the eighth.
Today's attendance was 3,451 (about 600 lower than the winners' bracket tilt between these two teams on Sunday). Total attendance through six sessions is a quite respectable 20,477, for an average of 3,413 per contest.
Houston: Rice Bullpen Allows First Run Since May 19th
Seth Fortenberry doubled down the rightfield line with two outs in the top of the seventh, and scored on Beamer Weems single up the middle to cut the Rice to 7-4 at the stretch. More notably, it was the first run the Owl bullpen has allowed since May 19th, covering 27 2/3 innings over nine games (28 1/3 if you count the two outs recorded before the run scored today).
Replays of Fortenberry's hit were inconclusive as to whether the ball was fair or foul. The first umpire jumped to avoid the ball, waited a second, and then signalled a fair ball. My initial impression is that the ball was foul, but it might have passed over the bag on its way down the line. The Owls certainly haven't gotten the benefit of the doubt on calls at first base this weekend -- in addition to the foul/fair debate, they've had three runners called out when replays clearly showed they were safe.
Baylor delivered the first blow with three runs in the top of the third, but Rice responded with five of their own in the bottom of the frame to take a 5-3 lead after 3 1/2 innings in the championship game of the Houston Regional.
It's a balmy afternoon in Houston, but Rice fans were into the game early, chanting "Let's Go Rice" as Aaron Luna batted with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first. Luna grounded out to end the frame, and after 1 1/2 innings we're scoreless at The Reck.
Houston: Baylor, Rice Meet Again In Championship Game
When these two schools met five years ago in the Houston Regional, the Rice Owls needed to beat Baylor twice to advance to the super regionals. They did just that, winning 7-4 on Sunday evening before coming from behind for a 5-4 walk-off victory in the ninth on Monday afternoon. Baylor looks to return the favor today, with first pitch scheduled for 4:00 Central.
With the glow of the setting sun reflecting of the buildings in the Medical Center, Arizona State's season came to an end at 37-21. With a 7-2 victory on Sunday evening, Baylor runs their record to 37-25 on the season and advances to tomorrow's championship game against Rice. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 PM, and if the Bears beat the Owls a second game will be played an hour later at Reckling Park.
Noone in the press box saw what started it, but after Beamer Weems hit a 3-run homer to give Baylor the lead in the third, Sun Devil first baseman Ike Davis started to follow him around the bases. From the replay, it looked like Weems might have bumped the catcher after touching the plate, but nothing else major that we could see. Both coaches talked with the umpires, but no action was taken other than a pitching change for Arizona State. After 3 innings, 4-2 Baylor.
Houston: Sun Devils, Bears Fight Against Elimination
Baylor and Arizona State have split four games this season, and this evening's rubber match is for the right to face Rice in tomorrow's championship game. In the bottom of the second, the Sun Devils lead the Bears 2-1.
Rice scored four early runs to take control of Sunday's winners' bracket contest, downing the Baylor Bears 7-2 on Sunday afternoon. Baylor (36-25) plays again in an hour in a losers' bracket battle against Arizona State (37-20), while Rice (52-10) advances to the championship game tomorrow afternoon.
Houston: Charles Dickens Would be Proud of the Bears
In the bottom of the eighth, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times for Baylor. They strung together three straight singles, but Eddie Degerman was able to strike out the side to end the threat without allowing a run. One inning to play, and the Owls lead 7-2.
When these teams met in April, Nick Cassavechia gave up the game-winning 3-run homer to Josh Rodriguez. When Rodriguez came up with two runners on and Cassavechia atop the mound, the first pitch was up and in and loaded the bases after it hit Rodriguez. Three unearned runs later and the Owls were on top 7-2 after 7 1/2 innings.
Rice first-base coach Mike Taylor was thrown out after Jordan Dodson was called out on an inning-ending double play (where the replay showed he beat the throw). The Owl faithful hasn't been happy with the home plate umpire either, contending that Eddie Degerman has been squeezed the last few innings. Six innings complete, Rice leads 4-2.
Baylor broke up Degerman's no-hitter in the bottom of the fifth, but a 2-6-2 double play ended the inning to bring the Owl crowd to their feet. Before they had settled down, both side roared as the final was announced from Austin, where the Longhorns were eliminated. Through 5 innings, Rice still leads 4-2.
After retiring the first ten batters of the game (seven via strikeout), Owl starter Eddie Degerman hit a rough patch in the fourth and issued back-to-back walks. He almost got out of the inning without allowing a run, but a two-out error by usually reliable Greg Buchanan allowed the Bears to cut the lead in half -- Rice leads 4-2 after four innings.
Baylor and Rice have been here before -- the two teams met in the regionals at Reckling Park in 2001, with the Bears rallying from a 9-0 hole to win the winners' bracket contest 11-10 before the Owls captured the final two games of the regional 7-4 and 5-4. Today, the winner advances to tomorrow afternoon's championship game while the loser gets an hour off before battling Arizona State this evening.
Arizona State knocked Prairie View out of the regional with a 13-4 victory on Saturday evening. The Sun Devils pounded out sixteen hits and seized control with 10 runs in the first three innings to survive the first elimination game of the regional.
Don't think I've ever seen this one before... With one out in the bottom of the seventh:
CJ Retherford from catcher to pitcher
Seth Dhaenens from second base to catcher
Eric Sogard from third base to second base (where he started the game)
Brett Wallace from designated hitter to first base (ASU loses their DH)
Frank Mesa into the game at 1B for Willy Fox (who had just come into the game at 1B)
Thanks for keeping us awake up here, Coach Murphy!
Arizona State went to the bullpen after the second and Prairie View followed suit in the fourth -- since then we've settled into the type groove you'd expect in a blowout. At the seventh inning stretch, Arizona State leads 11-2.
Michael Richard opened the contest with a back-flip as the Panthers took the field for the top of the first. Not to be outdone, fellow shortstop Andrew Romine followed suit as the Sun Devils took the field for the bottom of the inning. Prairie View fans haven't had much to cheer about since then, as Arizona State leads 10-0 as we head to the bottom of the third.
For most of the game, the largest cheers from the Baylor faithful came as the Nebraska and Texas losses were announced. When the ninth inning rolled around, the cheers were for their team as Ryan LaMotta held off a late rally to send the Bears into the winners' bracket with a 3-2 win over Arizona State.
You see something new every time you come to the ballpark -- on his way to argue a call at first base, Sun Devil coach Pat Murphy got into a verbal confrontation with Baylor pitcher Ryan LaMotta. After everyone returned to their positions, LaMotta struck out Brett Wallace to end the inning, and Murphy had to be cut off by the home plate umpire after a LaMotta fist pump in his direction. Other than the confrontations, the play has been crisp and the Bears lead 3-1 after six innings.
I can't put my finger on the exact cause, but it seems like every Arizona State game I've followed has dragged on for 3 1/2 or more hours. We've played 1:20 since resuming play today, and only 18 outs have been recorded -- Baylor leads Arizona State 3-1 through 4 1/2 innings.
Earlier today, the skies had cleared after nearly a week of rain -- that changed abruptly at 8:39 PM, as the Baylor-Arizona State game went into a rain delay with Baylor batting in a 0-0 game in the top of the 2nd.
Aaron Luna hit his fourteenth homer of the season in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game, and Josh Rodriguez singled in Tyler Henley with the winning run in the ninth as the Owls escaped Prairie View with a 6-5 victory on Friday afternoon.
It's the top of the third in Houston, and #2 Rice is currently trailing 5-1 (with the Panthers still threatening). Five Prairie View batters have struck out, but when they've gotten on base they've been running -- three different runners have stolen four bases.
Rice is the #2 national seed, so the Houston regional should be a cakewalk for the Owls, right? Not if two of last year's College World Series participants have anything to say about it. And if you don't remember what happened the last time the SWAC champion came to Reckling Park...