Rice edges Sam Houston State
By Allen Brown
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
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
“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
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
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
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.