June 1, 2008


St. Clair, Owls quell Red Storm


By Allen Brown

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Contributor


HOUSTON - After almost completely squandering various early scoring chances (leaving five men on based in the first two innings), the Rice Owls exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning to take a 10-2 lead and cruised to an 11-2 victory over the St. John’s Red Storm Saturday evening before 4,417 fans at Reckling Park in Game 4 of the Houston Regional.

J.P. Padron was the offensive star for the Owls (44-13), going 3 for 5 with five RBI as his three-run double down the left field line was the key hit of the Owls’ sixth inning uprising. Padron also added a solo home run in the seventh and an RBI single in the second for the Owls. Padron had whiffed in his first three at-bats on Friday night.


“Coach (Graham) gave me some pointers after the game last night," Padron said, "and I really took it to heart and worked in the cage on hitting the top half of the ball, see(ing) it late, and let(ting) it get deep.”
Senior lefty reliever Cole St. Clair entered the game for the Owls in the bottom of the fifth with the score 3-1 after the Red Storm (42-15) loaded the bases with one out off of Owls’ starter Chris Kelley. Following a Carlos Del Rosario sacrifice fly to center that plated St. John’s second run, St. Clair was able to quell the Red Storm rally and baffle the St. Johns hitters the rest of the way. St. Clair (9-2) pitched 4.1 hitless innings, allowing only two walks and hitting a batter.


“I was very happy with my command tonight and felt I was in a very good rhythm,” St. Clair said.


Graham agreed with St. Clair's assessment.


“I thought Cole was smoother and in a better rhythm tonight than at any time this year," Graham said.
In their first games of the regional, the two Rice relievers who have been utilized- Bobby Bell and Cole St. Clair- have pitched 7.1 innings without allowing a hit. Rice second sacker Jimmy Comerota added three hits and three RBI for the Owls.
Brian Kemp had two hits for St. John's. Lefty George Brown, the St. John’s starter and Big East pitcher of the year, struggled mightily with his control, giving up three walks and hitting three batters - along with six hits - in only four innings of work.
Rice will play the winner of Sunday’s early game between St. Johns and Texas in the Sunday nightcap. A Rice win would earn them the regional championship.