May 28, 2006
HOUSTON - No. 1 Rice scored nine runs in the middle three innings to erase a four-run deficit on the way to an 11-5 win over the 11th-ranked University of Houston baseball team Sunday in the championship game of the 2006 Conference USA Tournament at Reckling Park.
Trailing 5-1 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, the Owls scored three runs in the inning to pull to within a run and grabbed the lead for good one inning later when Joe Savery blasted a two-run homer over the wall in right field. Rice padded its lead in the sixth inning with four more runs to seize control of the game.
Freshman Luis Flores went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, while senior infielder Isa Garcia batted 2-for-4 with a run in the losing effort. Both players joined junior DH Brad Lincoln and junior outfielder Jake Stewart on the 2006 C-USA All-Tournament Team.
Junior righthander Shea Hancock picked up the loss and fell to 2-3 after surrendering five runs of four hits with a strikeout in 1.2 innings of relief.
All but one Rice starter collected a hit in the game with infielder Josh Rodriguez leading the way, batting 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Infielder Brian Friday batted 2-for-4 with a home run, while catcher Adam Zornes went 2-for-4 with a double, run and RBI. Outfielder Jordan Dodson also went 2-for-3 with a run, double and two RBIs to lead the Owls, who outhit the Cougars 13-7.
Rice reliever Will McDaniel collected the win and improved to 7-1 after limiting the Cougars to one hit with three strikeouts in 3.2 shutout innings.
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 39-20 overall, while Rice improved to 50-10.
The Cougars will now wait until Monday morning to learn their postseason fate, when the NCAA Selection Show airs at 11:30 a.m., Monday on ESPN. UH players and coaches will be watching the show live at Skeeter's Mesquite Grill at the Gulfgate location at 750 Gulfgate Mall. Cougar fans are encouraged to arrive early.
All Cougar postseason games can be heard live over the Internet at www.UHCougars.com with former UH letterwinners Nick Torina and Pat Cauley calling all the action. Fans also can follow play-by-play action by clicking on the "Live Stats" link on the schedule at www.UHCougars.com.
The Cougars struck for the game's first runs in the first inning. Garcia and Matt Weston started the rally with back-to-back, one-out singles and moved up a base after Dustin Kingsbury drew a walk in at bat that took more than 10 pitches to complete. Two batters later, Flores pushed a two-run, seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield for a 2-0 UH lead.
Rice cut the Cougar lead in half in the second inning, thanks to a hit and error. Joe Savery reached second after a UH infield miscue to lead off and put the score at 2-1 after Zornes laced a double down the left-field line.
The Cougars pushed their lead to 5-1 in the fourth inning with three runs off four hits. Flores led off with a single up the middle and moved up when Bryan Tully was hit in the foot by a pitch. Brett Logan then slapped a single up the middle to score Flores. Travis Cougot followed with a bunt single down the third-base line to load the bases.
Following a Rice pitching change, Stewart lifted a sacrifice fly into center field to score Tully on a play in which Logan was thrown out at third base attempting to tag up. Garcia laid a bunt single down the third-base line, and when the throw to first base went awry, Cougot scored easily for a 5-1 UH lead.
Rice pulled to within 5-4 in the next half-inning, thanks to Dodson's two-run double to right center and a key UH infield error.
The Owls took the lead one inning later on Savery's two-run homer and never relinquished it.
Rice scored four more runs in the sixth inning on a two-run single from Tyler Henley and RBI-singles from Friday and Rodriguez.
In the eighth inning, Rodriguez' RBI single capped the scoring for the day.