St. Clair, Owls quell Red Storm
By Allen Brown
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,"
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
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.