May 31, 2008


Rice edges Sam Houston State


By Allen Brown Contributor


HOUSTON - In another tight battle at Reckling Park in the Houston Regional, the Rice Owls (43-13) escaped with a 3-2 victory Friday night over the Southland Conference tournament champion Sam Houston State Bearcats (37-23).


The pitching of Rice sophomore righty Ryan Berry (8-4) and reliever Bobby Bell bailed out the Owls in an otherwise lackluster effort. Coach Wayne Graham of Rice said that besides for the pitching efforts of Berry and Bell, “we did little else” and that the Owls were “very fortunate to win.”

Bell was masterful in relief for the Owls, retiring the Bearcats in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to hold the Owls one-run lead and close out the game to earn his second save.


“I was able to change speeds and use both sides of the plate.” said Bell, in his longest outing of the season since returning from injury that kept him out of all but one game in 2007 and the first few months of this season.


Added Todd Sebek of Sam Houston State: “[Bell] has a dynamite changeup…He throws it where it looks like a fastball, and you just have to guess.”

Bell got a scare in the top of the eighth when Ryan Trevino, batting with one out, pounded a hanging changeup deep to left field. But the pitcher-friendly confines of Reckling Park, where the ball rarely carries and the prevailing wind blows in from left field, came to the rescue and the ball held up in the wind and Aaron Luna was able to make a running catch on the warning track.

SHSU took the lead at 1-0 in the first inning as Sebek scored (after leading off the game with a single) on a RBI single up the middle by SHSU slugger Bobby Verbick. Rice came back in the third with two runs on a RBI single from leadoff man Jared Gayhart and a RBI groundout from Diego Seastrunk after the 8- and 9-hole hitters in the batting order - Jimmy Comerota and Derek Myers - reached base on a single and a walk, respectively.

SHSU immediately tied the game at 2 in the top of the fourth when Ryan Trevino and Nick Zaleski reached to start the inning on consecutive errors by Owls infielders, and Trevino scored on an RBI single by Bearcats second baseman Braeden Riley.

Rice took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman shortstop Rick Hague led off with a double down the left-field line on the first pitch of the inning.


“I was looking for a slider, and I got one,” Hague said.


After Adam Zornes advanced Hague to third on a groundout to second, Chad Mozingo lifted a fly ball to SHSU centerfielder Keith Stein. Stein made an excellent throw home but Hague slid in just before the tag. Hague said, “that play was close, too close.”

Berry was able to battle through trouble most of the night as the SHSU leadoff batter reached base five of the six innings. Berry surrendered seven hits and a walk and only one earned run with four strikeouts in six innings. The Owls, who struggled at the plate in the C-USA tournament in which they went 0-2, only had seven hits and no extra base hits. Both Hague and second baseman Jimmy Comerota had two hits for the Owls.

SHSU starter Dallas Gallant (9-4) pitched well and logged a complete game for the Bearkats, allowing only seven hits and two walks.


Sebek had two hits, a stolen base, and a run scored.


“We were in the same [position] last year [in the Oxford Regional], and we made it to the Finals, so we can do it,” Sebek said.