April 17, 2007

Rice: St.Clair closes Owl victory

In by far his longest outing since returning from a shoulder injury, Cole St.Clair threw three innings of no-hit baseball, allowing just one baserunner--a walk to uber-hitter Kyle Russell. St.Clair threw his fastball 86-89 miles per hour, but it had enough movement to keep the Longhorn hitters off-balance.

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Rice: Savery homer extends Owl lead

First baseman Joe Savery has been really hot at the plate in recent weeks, and that streak continued today with an opposite-field (I love it!) home run against Texas reliever Hunter Harris. Rice now leads 7-4.

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Rice: Lonergan error costs Owls

Predictably, No. 9 hitter Travis Tucker, who has excellent speed, was bunting with runners on first and second. But Tucker executed poorly, and Lonergan had time to field the ball and get the lead runner at third base. He hurried the throw, though, and J.P. Padron couldn't reach it at third.

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Rice: Lembeck delivers

Right-fielder Chad Lembeck, who entered today's game with a .330 on-base percentage and the same slugging percentage, drove in two more runs for Rice by ripping a double that was baaaarely fair down the third-base line.

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Rice: Owls extend their lead

Designated hitter Aaron Luna busted out of a mini-slump (he was one-for-nine last weekend against Houston) with a clutch two-out double to give Rice a 4-1 lead (since narrowed to 4-2).

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Rice: Pitchers' duel continues

Augie Garrido had a quick hook--probably rightfully so--with starter Austin Wood, pulling him after a Jess Buenger single through the left side of the infield scored Joe Savery from second.

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Rice: Texas ties game at one

The heart of the Texas lineup got to Chris Kelley in the top of the fourth, manufacturing a run to tie the game.

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Rice: Kelley off to a good start, Wood hit hard

Rice's Chris Kelley struggled in his previous start against Texas, but he looked very good in the top of the first inning tonight.

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Rice: Bad weather continues

So this is my fifth game for CSTV.com and the fourth time the weather has been absolutely horrendous. Of course, the weather has been pretty horrendous across the country for the past couple months or so. Tonight's game is a sellout, but the park is only about 40 percent full right now (2,000 people or so), and I doubt that will change much as the game gets started.

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Rice: Longhorns v. Owls, part two

I present to you, loyal slog readers:

All You Ever Wanted to Know about the Rice-Texas Baseball Rivalry But Were Too Afraid to Ask.

Continue reading "Rice: Longhorns v. Owls, part two" »

March 25, 2007

Final in Hattiesburg

Rice's spot as Conference USA bully is secure for a few more weeks -- at least until their April 6-8 trip to East Carolina. The Owls came out strong in Sunday's rubber game at Pete Taylor Park beating Southern Miss 18-5. Joe Savery started on the hill and but made a bigger contribution at the plate with four RBI to pace the resurgent Rice offense.

"You want to get off on the right foot in conference play," Savery said. "I am a junior and for all the juniors we got swept at San Jose our freshman year. It was big."

"They have a good ball club," said Rice coach Wayne Graham. "To win two-out-of-three on the road against a quality team is all you can expect. You'd like to have more but it's tough to do better than that."

Its beyond ugly

We passed ugly a few innings ago. We're into Carnival side-show ugly now.

Wild pitches, passed balls, misplayed balls, hit batsmen. You name it, Southern Miss is doing it.

Sadly, they are a much better team than one we are seeing today.

They can't even help us out with the mercy rule as they scored a run in the eighth to cut a lead to nine - just missing getting an early out.

We go to the bottom of the ninth and it is 19-5. It doesn't seem that close.

Actually, the scoreboard operator has a sense of humor. He just put 33-5 on the scoreboard.

Savery does it again

Joe Savery just mashed a two-run double to center to extend the Owl lead to 10-3 in the sixth. Savery started on the mound and pitched just three innings, but has been very good at plate

Today's attendance was just announced at 4218. Another strong crowd although they have not much to cheer for today.

Somebody gets kicked out

My last three trips to Hattiesburg, someone has gotten the heave-ho.

Last season in a wild game with East Carolina, two USM coaches and a player were ejected in a Golden Eagle win.

Earlier this season, I witnessed Southern Miss score four runs in the ninth to beat Louisville. As the winning run scored, the teams began a bench-clearing brawl with three players each suspended for the next three games.

That brings us to today, where after a few exchanges with home plate umpire Greg Oros, third base coach Lane Burroughs was tossed after a neck-high strike call.

Rice is roughing up USM starter David Clark. They lead 7-2 in the fifth.

Savery helps himself

The two-way player not only settled down for a 1-2-3 second inning, he rapped a two-out two-RBI single to give Rice a 3-2 lead.

We also got a wakeup call a few moments ago. While Pete Taylor Park is undergoing construction to their pressbox, we are located down the leftfield line just beside the bullpen. USM leadoff hitter Trey Sutton just sizzled a liner straight at us going just over the heads of the seated media. No one made a play on the ball - not even the official scorer who mercifully did not give anyone an error.

3-2 Rice in bottom of third.

Rough first for Savery

Rice starting pitcher Joe Savery survived a rocky first inning. Although he only gave up three hits and two runs, he seemed out of sync taking a lot time between pitches, shaking off signs repeatedly, and just not looking like the first round projected draft pick he is.

His team got a run back fir him in the second on Diego Sistrunk's RBI double.

2-1 going to the second. We'll see if Savery settles into a groove.

Packed house in Hattiesburg

After two days of over-capacity crowds (4119 on Friday and 4286 on Saturday), there looks like another strong crowd at Pete Taylor Park Sunday in the rubber game of this three-game set between two of the top CUSA squads.

Joe Savery (3-1/2.15) is on the hill for Rice. David Clark (3-1/3.77) will pitch for the Golden Eagles.

Trey Sutton leads USM with a .354 average while Rice is led by Savery's 320 clip.

March 04, 2007

Urena's one-hitter beats Rice 6-1

Big bodied and crafty, Sean Urena relied on off-speed stuff all day, going the distance for Fullerton in beating the Rice Owls 6-1.

Urena threw 110 pitches on the day, holding Rice to one hit for his first career complete game. Strong work by the Frosh.

Looks like the Rice guys will make their flights out of LAX with no problem afterall as the game lasted a brisk 2:26. Oh and the attendance was a respectable 2, 639.

Typical of this series, Fullerton pulling away

The titans have scored twice in the 5th and once more again here in the 6th to pull out to a 6-1 lead now. Unheralded hitters Khris Davis and Jon Wilhite provided two of the RBI, Davis' shot being an RBI single, plating Jake Vasquez, who started the 5th off with a single.

Wilhite came in to pinch hit with men on 2nd and 3rd and hit a bouncing groundout, allowing for Clark Hardman to score. Hardman lead off the 6th with a walk.

The last two games between these two were 10-3 and 9-3 scores. I'm predicting the same for this one.

Okay, I jinxed it. Rice busts up the no-hitter

Jared Gayhart hit a triple in the top of the 5th to break uup Sean Urena's no-hitter. Gayhart came in to score on a sac fly. It's now Fullerton 3, Rice 1 with the Titans batting in the 5th.

By the way, this is the second straight week that Urena has had a solid start, as he took a no-hitter into the 5th against UCLA last weekend as well.

Also, congrats to Creighton for beating the Southern Illinois Salukis, 67-61, to win the Missouri Valley Conference in basketball today. Dana Altman rules.

Nice drama in Athens Mark, Titans go up 3-0 here

CSUFscores.jpg

John Curtis steps on home plate after the RBI single from Billy Pinkerton, putting Cal State Fullerton up 3-0.

The Titans ended up running off Joe Savery and Ryne Tacker came in to relieve. After Pinkerton's single, the Titans ended up stranding three on the basepaths.

No jinx here, Urena has a no-hitter so far

CSUFurena.jpg


Okay, so it's only after four innings of work, but Fullerton's Sean Urena has yet to give up a hit to the Owls. And don't hate me for mentioning it... I don't believe in jinxes.

Fullerton still up 2-nil.

Savery not up to his usual stuff, Fullerton up early

Rice starter Joe Savery kept messing around with full counts, going to 3-2 on each of the first five batters. Although he got a 3-up, 3-down first inning, he ended up walking the first two batters of the second inning. And Titan RF Chris Jones made him pay, slicing a chalk-kicking double down the right field line that scored both walkers.

Fullerton is up 2-0 going into the third inning. Savery has been all over the place with his pitches so far.

'bout to start here in Fullerton

CSUFpre-game.jpg

Horton and Graham meet before game three here at Goodwin Field.

Keep in mind, the Rice flight back to Houston leaves at 6:30pm. Let's hope this isn't another three and a half hour marathon.

It's official now, Rice downs Fullerton 9-3

Owls blast out 16 hits on the night and handcuff the Titan batters from inning one-to-nine.

Coach Horton just told me, "They were better than us in all facets of the game. They pitched better. They ran down everything defensively. They hit better with two strikes. They just basically schooled us. I know after last night was a real stinker for them, so I knew they'd make a run at us and we didn't respond to the challenge. We usually take pride in doing all the things they did tonight."

Well said.

Game three tomorrow at Noon, left coast time. I'm just hoping for one barn-burner in this series, like we had on Friday and Saturday of last year's series.

Fullerton's big chance...

with the bases-loaded and two out, Jake Vasquez took a lumberjack swing and hit the ball a mile. People screamed. Arms raised in triumph. And the scoreboard operator was ready to change the score to 9-7. But Tyler Henley ran down the blast at the base of the fence.

The crowd groaned.

Rice is up 9-3 going into the 9th. (When will we have a good game in this series?)

March 03, 2007

Wheels falling off for Fullerton.

Rice just plated another pair of runs here in the 7th from RBI singles by Diego Seastrunk and Tyler Henley. Adam Jorgenson has been pulled in favor of Justin Klipp.

It's now 8-3 Owls here during the 7th inning stretch.

Rice pads lead again (gotta stop using the word "pads")

No. 9 hitter Chad Lembeck slapped a home run off of reliever Adam Jorgenson and Joe Savery hit an RBI single and then something else happened that I didn't see 'coz somebody brought in homemade cookies. Now the Owls are up 6-3.

Titans close gap. Could've been worse.

Rice starter Ryan Berry unravelled a bit here in the 5th, hitting two batters, one bringing in a bases-loaded run.

Then, pinch hitter Nick Mahin came on with the bases-loaded. Rice turned to Bobby Bramhall out of the pen to face him. On a 3-2 count, Mahin crouched, but looked at a ball go low, walking in another run. Bramhall started off with an 0-2 count on Mahin.

However, John Curtis then got caught in a rundown between 3rd and home, on what looked like an intentional steal attempt from 3rd.

Rice is now up 4-3 going into the 6th.

Owl bats provide two-out nightmare of their own

Rice opens things up here in the 5th inning. Joe Savery singled and Aaron Luna hit a moon shot to right field after the first two hitters went down quietly.

After Luna's homer, Danny Lehmann doubled and a Joe Scott error put runners at the corners. But a brilliant, diving snag by second baseman Joel Weeks kept the Owls from adding to Kaplan's woes.

It's now Rice 4-1 going into the bottom of the 5th.

Forgot to point this out, Rice's problem is...

the team batting average coming into tonight is freakin' .256! That's hard to believe. I'm willing to bet Wayne Graham himself just wants to grab a bat and go to the plate, gritting his teeth.

The opponents bat at a .228 clip. So that's more Rice-like for the quality arms of the Owls.

Now you see why Rice is just 10-5 and not still the No. 1 team. But as Wayne Graham told me in the interview I did with him in Houston a few weeks ago, "Hitting always comes and goes. Pitching is more important."

Fullerton bites back. Crowd files in L.A. style

A mini two-out rally overcame Rice pitcher Ryan Berry as the first two batters went down like lambs. But Clark Hardman's infield single was followed by a 4-pitch walk to Joel Weeks. Then, Texas A&M transfer came on to get his second hit of the night, an RBI single. The Titans eventually stranded men on 2nd and 3rd when John Curtis hit into a high-chop groundout.

Going into the 4th, it's now Rice 2, Fullerton 1.

As is typical here in Smogland no matter what the event, the crowd was slow in getting to Goodwin Field tonight, but it looks like a pretty full stadium tonight. Not a sell-out, but good. I'll get you the attendance when it's announced.

Rice pads lead. Kaplan helps a bit.

Starter Jeff Kaplan plunked a pair of Rice batters and walked in a run to help the Owls push out to a 2-0 lead after an inning and a half.

The good news for Kaplan? Jess Buenger came up with the bases-loaded, looking for a grand slam to add to his first inning solo shot. But Kaplan got him to fly out to center. The crowd let out a collective gasp because the ball seemed pretty well-hit off his bat.

Bueng!... I mean, bing! Rice scores quickly

No. 3 hitter Jess Buenger (pronounced "bing-ger") just hit a 2-1 pitch off of Fullerton starter Jeff Kaplan into the arboretum to put Rice up 1-zip. Fullerton coming to the plate in the bottom of the 1st.

This was Buenger's second home run of the weekend (last night he hit one off of Wes Roemer).

What Roy Williams does when there is no UNC basketball game

Roy Williams.jpg

Here's a picture of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams, at today's UNC-Penn State game. By the way, the Heel roundballers didn't have a game today. They'll play Duke tomorrow night.

Special thanks to the College Baseball Doctor for the pic.

Rice-Fullerton: Fullerton Wins, 10-3

Okay- while I was going on my diatribe about the "Over-Rated" chant, Fullerton pitcher Justin Klipp put an end to Rice's misery, forcing a popout to secure the 10-3 CSF victory. Wes Roemer logged the win to improve to 3-2 while ending Rice's seven-game winning streak. Chris Kelley took the loss for the Owls.

It was an error-filled, ugly and entertaining game that saw seven wild pitches, five batters hit by pitches and a passed ball. And at 3 hours and 36 minutes, I can honestly say that I'm okay that it's over. That's it from Fullerton.

JO

Rice-Fullerton: The Worst Chant in Sports

It's the top of the ninth and the few remaining fans from the official crowd of 2,528 have busted out the "Over-Rated" chant, which I still to this day don't understand. I mean -- if a nationally ranked team comes to your house and the home team hands them a sound whipping, isn't it saying a lot for the home team that it beat down a legitimately highly-rated team. You might as well chant "We're not that good either -- but we're better than you". That doesn't have quite as good of a ring to it though.

Rice-Fullerton: Owls Bullpen... Not so Good

You won't see this in the box score every day.

In the bottom of the seventh, Rice pitcher Mike Ojala hit Fullerton batter Chris Jones. One wild pitch later, Jones took second, where Doug Gerbasi took his place as a pinch runner. Another wild pitch later, Gerbasi took third. Any guesses as to what happened next?

Yep -- you guessed it. Ojala tossed another wild pitch, sending Gerbasi home for a 9-3 Fullerton lead. That was the end of the night for Ojala, who left the mound with Bryan Harris on first base.

In came reliever Bryan Price, who allowed a run in the more traditional sense (on Ojala's tab, of course) when Clark Hardman sent Harris home with a long double down the left field line to pad Fullerton's lead 10-3.

Rice-Fullerton: More Action from the Pen

Rice reliever Kyle Gunderson gave up another Fullerton run when a Jake Vazquez double sent Clark Hardman, who had walked and stolen second base, to home plate. Mike Ojala took Gunderson's place to finish out the sixth inning with Fullerton leading 8-3.

For Fullerton, Nolan Bruyninckx takes over for Wes Roemer at the top of the seventh. Roemer finishes the game with 10 strikeouts, two walks and three earned runs over 118 pitches, and barring a collapse by his teammates, a victory. While Roemer's 10 strikouts in six innings are certainly impressive, what might be even more noteworthy is that this game marks only the sixth time in 35 career starts that he's allowed more than one walk in a game.

Rice-Fullerton: It's Raining Klondikes

It's freezing cold at Goodwin Field (at least by spoiled Southern California standards), and the Fullerton marketing department is throwing Klondike ice cream bars into the stands. I don't understand. I guess at any temperature, free ice cream is good ice cream.

Rice's Jess Buenger just scored on a ground ball to second to cut the Fullerton lead to 7-3 halfway through the sixth.

Rice-Fullerton: Kelley's Done

Fighting a 7-2 deficit, Rice is going to the bullpen. Kyle Gunderson has taken the mound at the top of the fifth in place of Chris Kelley. While Rice finds itself in a hole, the Owls can't put it all on Kelley. Only two of the seven CSF runs are earned, as Kelley finishes the night with five strikeouts and four walks while giving up four hits on 101 pitches.

March 02, 2007

Rice-Fullerton: Good News on the Duck Front

A woman just came to the press box with a duck update. Evidently it got up on its own and decided to waddle down toward the field. Before it got there, some caring fans were able to corral the bird and carry it to a nearby arboretum where they released the fallen fowl. Let's hope it reaches a full recovery in the wild.

In baseball news, Rice designated hitter Jess Buenger knocked in second baseman Aaron Luna on a two-run home run in the top of the fourth to cut the Fullerton lead to 7-2.

Rice-Fullerton: Duck Hunt

I swear -- I'm not making this up for the sake interesting blog material. During the bottom of the third, a flock of ducks flew over the field near the first-base line. One of them didn't make it. I heard a gasp from the crowd and looked over to the stands to see a limp bird fall into the bleachers. Evidently it didn't see the netting behind the bleachers and bounced off for an unfortunate end. At least I think so. It never flew away. (I hope you appreciate my restraint from using any sort of fowl ball reference here.)

Oh-- and by the way; Bryan Harris knocked in Chris Jones on a sacrifice fly to right field to pad Fullerton's lead, 7-0.

Rice-Fullerton: It's gonna be a loooong night

The Orange Country Register beat writer just pointed out to me that at the top of the third, we're on pace for a six-hour game. Now don't get me wrong -- I'm enjoying the Friday night baseball -- but here's hoping these guys can pick up the pace.

Rice-Fullerton: No Excuses for Roemer

Not that he's been vocal about his lack of run support, but Wes Roemer can't complain tonight. After posting three outs in three batters at the top of the first, Roemer enters the second inning with a 6-0 cushion. Aided by two errors from Rice shortstop Brian Friday, the Titan bats opened up with a first-inning fury against Rice pitcher Chris Kelley, who entered the game with a 2.04 ERA.

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Prime Time in Fullerton

What a treat -- I'm taking a break from my normal hoops duties for my first venture of the season to the baseball diamond -- and I find myself at one of the biggest matchups of the early season. Tenth-ranked Cal State Fullerton and its 12 national championships, plays host to No. 6 Rice in a prime time Friday night matchup.

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February 25, 2007

Rice: 14-1 final

It's a final from Reckling Park, 14-1 Owls. Rice got sophomore walk-on shortstop Jimmy Comerota his first career at-bat, and he responded with a base hit in the seventh inning. That ties him for the all-time Rice batting average record with inimitable Iowa native Jon Gillespie, who was 1-for-1 for the 2003 national championship team.

That'll do it from H-town for now, but I'm sure our Southern California bloggers will have the Rice-Cal State Fullerton series for you next weekend.

Rice : Glare delay!

If Mark thinks blowouts are bad, try having a glare delay in the middle of a blowout.

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Rice: Dodson helps Owls break it open

Rice has extended its lead to 8-1 in the sixth inning, going for its first undefeated weekend of the year. Leftfielder Jordan Dodson, who entered the game hitting .160, is 2-for-3 with a double, a homer and three runs driven in. Rice lefty Joe Savery left the game with the 8-1 lead after five innings.

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Rice: Shaking hands and kissing babies

Savery. Kissing babies. Athlete. Velocity. Change-up. Those are my notes from the first three innings.

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Rice: Nebraska holds off other Owls 8-7 in Sunday opener

It took three different pitchers to close out the ninth inning, but Nebraska held on for an 8-7 win over Florida Atlantic to go 2-1 in the Rice Invitational.

The offenses quieted a bit after the 6-6 margin through the first four innings. Nebraska went ahead in the fifth when Andrew Brown led off with a double to deep right field. FAU catcher Justin Martin has been pressed into outfield duty this year, and the entire Owl outfield had trouble judging fly balls this weekend. Pinch hitter Jake Mort drove Brown in with a sacrifice fly. Nebraska extended its lead to 8-6 in the sixth on a leadoff home run from No. 9 hitter Craig Corriston to dead center field.

Florida Atlantic got back in the game in the bottom of the sixth with another homer, this one off the bat of DH Alex Silversmith. But the Owls stranded runners in the seventh and eighth innings, despite getting the first two men on in the seventh. Nebraska head coach Mike Anderson used three pitchers – Steve Edlefsen, Zach Herr and Erik Bird – in the ninth inning, and Bird finally recorded his third save by getting Daniel Cook to ground out with two runners on base.

FAU lefthander Chris Salberg turned in five terrific innings of relief after averaging just more than one inning per appearance in his first seven outings. Salberg struck out six batters and walked four in five innings, allowing just one run. To steal a line from Nebraska’s SID, Florida Atlantic certainly is one of the most entertaining teams around – all three of its games this weekend came down to the last at-bat, including a walkoff Friday and a top-of-the-ninth tie-breaking balk yesterday.

That’s it for the first game – we’ll be ready for the Rice vs. A&M-CC game in about 45 minutes.

Rice: Welcome to the launching pad

No, Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium is not back in business. But with the wind blowing straight out at Reckling Park today, we've already had three home runs in the first four innings today between Nebraska and Florida Atlantic.

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February 24, 2007

Rice: Not quite a balk-off, but close

Florida Atlantic pulled out Saturday's nightcap 13-12, scoring in the top of the ninth on a bases-loaded balk to complete a rally from a 12-5 seventh-inning deficit. It was not quite as dramatic as one of my favorite baseball phenomena, the balk-off, but it was pretty odd nonetheless. FAU got a single from William Block and a hit batter to put two runners on base. Reliever Trey Maldonado got two outs before walking Justin Martin. He then balked on his first pitch to Daniel Cook - apparently by failing to bring his hands to a complete stop - allowing the go-ahead run to score.

Lefthander Joel Schmal retired the side in order in the ninth inning to wrap up his second win of the year. The game was long - 3 hours, 22 minutes - but not as long as some monstrosities I've seen. And it feature two battling teams that really wanted the win. FAU came away with it and now goes for a winning record in the tournament when it takes on Nebraska at noon tomorrow. Rice and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will meet at 3:30 p.m.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Rice: 12-12 in the 8th

You read that right. It's now 12-12 in the eighth after a seven-run seventh inning for Florida Atlantic. Justin Martin kept one on the right side of the fair pole for a two-run homer and William Block hit a three-run triple before scoring on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. A&M-CC starter Omar Gutierrez finished with 6+ innings, 9 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 7 walks, 1 hit batter, 2 wild pitches, and 128 pitches.

The car alarm has stopped, but we're otherwise just assigning blame for the possibility of extra innings up here in the press box. We did, however, play a full rendition of "Take me out to the Ballgame," just to prove to Mark Etheridge that we do things right around here. We followed it up with the ever-popular "Deep in the Heart of Texas" - I'm kinda surprised USA (love that acronym) didn't play "Sweet Home Alabama" during its seventh-inning stretch.

Oh, and FAU reliever Joel Schmal appears to be recovering well from surrendering a walk-off two-run homer to Joe Savery last night - he's in his second inning of shutout relief for FAU.

Rice: Nightcaps and car alarms

Quite a nightcap we’ve got here. I may need a nightcap (or three) at the rate we’re going.

As we covered earlier, A&M-CC went up 4-0 in the first. Florida Atlantic responded with a four-run third inning, thanks in part to Islander righthander Omar Gutierrez, who has walked six batters through four innings.

Continue reading "Rice: Nightcaps and car alarms" »

Rice: TAMU-CC 4, FAU 0

Florida Atlantic approached this tournament the way any solid mid-major should: Kevin Cooney started his ace against the highest-ranked opponent (Mickey Storey against Rice on Friday) and saved No. 2 starter Brandon Cooney (no relation) for Nebraska on Sunday. That moved No. 3 starter Mike Obradovich up to the Saturday start against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. If the first inning is any indication, the decision may turn out to bite Florida Atlantic in the butt.

Obradovich was not awful, but he did not help his own cause by fumbling a bunt after allowing a leadoff single. After a fly out and an RBI single, No. 5 hitter Chris Widner lofted a fly ball that carried, with some help from the wind, over the left-field wall for a three-run homer. 4-0 TAMU-CC after the first. The Islanders, who are no slouches at 9-2, have come to play – centerfielder Jon Kourie made a ridiculous diving catch on a smashed line drive from Alex Silversmith in the second inning.

Unfortunately for the Islanders, FAU starter Obradovich settled down in the second inning, going to a big breaking ball to complement his sinking fastball to strike out the side on 14 pitches. Remember, in the first game today, Nebraska took a 4-0 lead in the first inning but came out on the short end of a 9-5 score.

Rice: Owls win opener, 9-5

The first game is in the books, with Rice winning by a 9-5 margin. Matt Langwell was the pitching hero for Rice, firing 5.1 scoreless innings and facing only 19 batters in the process after starter Ryan Berry was knocked out of the game in the second inning. The real heroes were the Rice hitters, who went 11-for-35 despite entering the game with a .234 team average. Nos. 3-6 hitters Diego Seastrunk, Joe Savery, Aaron Luna and Jess Buenger each had two hits, and Savery had a double and a triple. Buenger drove in three runs. Ryne Tacker pitched two scoreless innings to close the game, lowering his ERA to 0.49.

For Nebraska, Jeff Tezak, Ryan Wehrle and Jake Opitz each had two hits, and Matt Foust was very effective in relief. The Cornhuskers did not measure up defensively; even though errors were 1-1, Nebraska's porous defense was really at fault in the decisive fourth inning that saw Rice rally from being down 5-0 to go ahead 6-5.

In the second game, Florida Atlantic will take on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (I'm with Eric, we gotta make this shorter. From now on, I'm going A&M-CC or A&M-Corpus with this one) and first pitch is set for 4:50 p.m. Although the crowd will surely dwindle, we'll be on hand to let you know how the other Owls fare.

Rice: Linebackers on the mound

Relievers from both teams have slowed the respective offenses, with Matt Foust showing impressive stuff for Nebraska and Matt Langwell getting slightly better results for Rice.

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Rice: The reverse jinx

Never underestimate the reverse jinx. Not to hog this blog or anything, but Rice just put together a six-run rally in the bottom of the fourth inning to go ahead 6-5. Here's how it happened ...

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Rice: Huskers in control

It's only the fourth inning, but Nebraska looks in complete control of this game. The Cornhuskers knocked out Ryan Berry in the second inning and have twice ended Rice innings by turning double plays.

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Rice: Berry good start for Nebraska

Rice freshman Ryan Berry might have rather had the extra minutes a rain delay would have provided - he looked mortal in the first inning for the first time all season, and Nebraska rolled to a 4-0 lead.

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Rice: Tarp roulette

We're playing tarp roulette at the moment at Reckling Park. Rice had assembled in front of its dugout, ready to take the field, and the rain decided that was an appropriate time to intensify. The rain has gone back and forth between nothing, a light mist, and a pelting downpour. The mound and home plate areas are currently tarped, even though there is no rain to speak of.

And as soon as I wrote that ...

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Rice: First pitch scheduled for 1:10 pm due to rain

Morning rain in the Houston area has us aiming for a 1:10 pm first pitch between Rice and Nebraska this afternoon on the second day of the Rice Invitational at Reckling Park. More to come ...

February 23, 2007

Rice: Savery ends game with walk-off bomb

First baseman Joe Savery crushed a 2-1 pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark for a very dramatic ending to a well-pitched game by both teams.

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Rice: same song, second verse...

The left-handed relievers for both teams are faring just as well as did the right-handed starters.

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Rice: game tied

With starter Chris Kelley up around 100 pitches and tiring, Rice head coach Wayne Graham replaced him with left-hander Bobby Bramhall after Kelley gave up two hits to start the seventh inning.

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Rice: Florida Atlantic scores one

Robbie Widlansky sliced an opposite (left) field double that was fair by a couple feet, and he came around to score on a wild pitch and a groundout.

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Rice: pitchers' duel continues

Rice has started to hit the ball a little bit harder against Storey, but none of them have fallen for hits. In the bottom of the third, Gayhart lined out to right-center, and Savery just got under a fly-out to left field. And Florida Atlantic centerfielder Daniel Cook robbed Rice's Diego Seastrunk of a second line-drive, extra-base hit with a fantastic over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track in straightaway center.

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Rice takes an early lead

I think fewer than 500 people are at the park today, probably from a combination of factors: dreary (overcast and sometimes drizzling) weather, inconvenient 4:30 start time, a glut of early-season home games for Rice, etc.

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Rice: starting lineups

Storey is indeed pitching for Florida Atlantic; after pitching on Friday in the first two series of the year, he moved to Saturday last weekend to face Oklahoma State in the marquee tournament match-up and has moved back to Friday to face Rice.

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Rice: Previewing this afternoon's game

In short: something's got to give.

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February 18, 2007

Rice: Grandstand finish lifts Rice to 33 in a row

Sorry I don't have many wisecracks or one-liners (rest assured the media guides here are much smaller than in the Stanford-UT series) but we had a surplus of quality pitching at Reckling Park this weekend and a grandstand finish to today's finale ...

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Rice: Tacker doing the job in relief

It’s 2-1 Rice as we head to the eighth inning. The middle innings were pitching, pure and simple. Long Beach State’s Omar Arif allowed a scratched run in the fourth inning on a pair of walks and a bloop single but retired nine Owls in a row before leaving in the bottom of the seventh. Arif allowed just three hits in 6.2 innings, and two of them were soft bloopers. Andrew Liebel, Friday’s winning pitcher, is on for the Dirtbags.

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Rice: Finally some runs and some baserunning blunders

Never underestimate the power of a good jinx. After posting about a scoreless game, Rice came out and got a run in the bottom of the third inning. We've also got some numbers on Long Beach State's baserunning woes this weekend.

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Rice: Pitching, pitching and more pitching

Scoreless in the bottom of the third - you can count on great pitching and aggressive baserunning with these two teams, and the defense ain't half-bad, either.

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Rice: Deciding game coming up

Back here at Reckling Park for the rubber match of this three-game series. As usual with these two teams, it has been all about pitching so far. Long Beach State got excellent relief pitching Friday but could not measure up to Rice starter Ryan Berry yesterday. We’ll see what happens today …

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February 17, 2007

Rice: Decisive third game tomorrow

I expected nothing less - Rice and Long Beach State split the first two games and will decide the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. Long Beach State did not have enough pitching today to overcome the injury suffered by No. 2 starter Manny McElroy last week, and Rice's offense finally came to play in the latter innings.

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Rice: Bases-loaded triples break it open

The game’s gotten a bit out of hand at this point, as Rice finally broke out against the Long Beach bullpen (I told you we’d see a lot of pitchers today) with a pair of bases-loaded triples, one in the seventh and one in the eighth.

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Rice: 4-2 Owls in the seventh

We've finally found some offense in this game, with the teams combining for four runs in a span of three half innings, and Rice now has a 4-2 lead as we go to the seventh.

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Rice: Musings on a scoreless game

It's a gorgeous day - even better than yesterday and definitely warmer - and we have what will probably be the biggest crowd of the weekend on hand to enjoy it.

Random notes in a scoreless game:
We've seen a number of checked swings called strikes so far, and I don't think it sat too well with Long Beach State and second baseman Matt Cline in the top of the third inning.
Rice is wearing blue jerseys today for the first time this season, while Long Beach State brought back the grays from last night. Unusually, Beach pitcher Shane Peterson has plenty of dirt on his right knee - he was thrown out at third in the top of the first inning trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt.
I had some pictures ready to post, but I can't figure out how to upload them - maybe Eric Sorenson can help me out, since he's got it down.
Finally, the wind is blowing out today, a rarity at Reckling Park. I don't know if it will produce more runs - Peterson and Berry have been dominant through two-plus innings - but it sure ought to help.

Rice: Inexperienced pitchers square off

Back at Reckling Park for game two in this series. Everybody's still talking about Rice's triple play yesterday and the Owls' .211 team batting average (and the need for more humor in this blog - I'll see what I can do). Long Beach State, on the other hand, is in good position to break Rice's home series winning streak but will send lefthander Shane Peterson to the mound today for his first appearance of the season ...

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February 16, 2007

Rice: Beach pulls it out, 4-3 in 11 innings

Into extra innings we go. Neither team produced a baserunner from the bottom of the eighth through the 10th inning. I believe this is now the longest Rice game since a 12-inning game against Baylor in February 2002 – more than five years ago.
Long Beach State finally won, 4-3 in 11 innings. Here's how they did it ...

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Rice: All tied up again

Long Beach State rallied in the eighth to tie the game 3-3, but Rice reliever Jared Gayhart got a key strikeout with the bases loaded to keep it a 3-3 game.

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Rice: Owls rally for 3-2 lead in seventh

Rice rallied against Worley in the seventh, although the Owls did not tear the cover off the ball. Dirtbag defenders got a piece of the ball on two of Rice's three hits in the inning, but a two-run single from Jared Gayhart has given Rice a 3-2 edge into the eighth inning.

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Rice: Long Beach leads, 2-1

Long Beach State kept up the pressure and finally broke through with two runs in the fifth, although the Dirtbags could have gotten a lot more runs out of it. Fans got to see Beach head coach Mike Weathers argue a close play at home plate for nearly five minutes, keeping this game moving slowly ...

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Rice: Bases loaded, nobody out for LBSU

Rice took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, but Long Beach State is rallying as we speak in the top of the fifth, loading the bases with nobody out.

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Rice: Triple play gets Owls off the hook

Ever seen a 9-3-6-4-3 triple play? Neither had we until the fourth inning of this crazy game, which is still scoreless. Check it out ...

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Rice: Scoreless after the second

Not much to speak of in the early going except superstitions and scouting reports. We're scoreless after the bottom of the second, but read on to see how Long Beach State likes to live up to its nickname.

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Rice: lineups and notes

It's a gorgeous day to be inside watching outside baseball, I'm not gonna lie. I'm a Northern guy, but press passes certainly come in handy when the high temperature is in the 50s. Still, Rice and Long Beach State are ready for a 4:05 p.m. CDT first pitch at Reckling Park. Both teams have gone with slightly modifield lineups for the opening game of this series.

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Rice: Previewing a weekend of pitching

I'm still at the office, but I will soon head to Reckling Park for the beginning of a matchup that could serve as a poster child for February start dates: Rice vs. Long Beach State (Texas vs. California, pitching vs. pitching, you get the idea). While the weather feels like neither Texas nor California - the temperature is expected to peak out at 50 degrees today - it is a gorgeous day for outdoor baseball at one of the best collegiate venues in the country.

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