June 8, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

Rice Escapes A&M

St. Clair, Dodson Spark Owls in Opener


By Allen Brown


Allen Brown pitched for Rice from 1993-96, starting the Owls' first NCAA postseason game in 1995. Now an attorney, Brown has contributed to CollegeBaseballInsider.com for the past three years.

HOUSTON - Cole St. Clair once again saved the day for Rice on the mound, the Owls got offensive heroics from a most unlikely source to prevail 9-7 over Texas A&M in a seesaw affair before 5,368 in Game 1 of the Houston Super Regional at Reckling Park.

Rice senior designated hitter Jordan Dodson, who was exiled to the bench mid-season - after starting for the last three years in the outfield - due to a .167 batting average, went 3 for 3 with a walk and four RBI batting ninth for the Owls (46-13). Dodson had a run-scoring single in the second, a run-scoring single in the fourth and a two-run double in the fifth, driving in the Owls’ decisive eighth and ninth runs.

“I was surprised [to start]…Coach told me to be ready for some at-bats this weekend, but I was surprised to start,” said Dodson, who didn’t have a hit since April 5 and did his damage from the 9-hole.


Added Owls coach Wayne Graham: “Dodson deserved the opportunity to start…he has been a good player for us for three years…he has been working hard and encouraging the team.”


Graham indicated that Dodson got the start because, “I liked his attitude and the way he swung the bat [in practice this week].”

Rice starter Ryan Berry was not particularly effective, surrendering seven hits and two walks and five earned runs in 4.2 innings. He was unable to hold a 6-3 Rice lead in the top of the fifth as the Aggies’ Luke Anders touched up Berry for a two-run double to cut the lead to 6-5. Bryan Price relieved,  and after walking Justin Ruggiano, Darby Brown doubled in Ruggiano with a deep drive to center to tie the game at 6.

Graham then turned to lefty Cole St. Clair (10-2), who snagged a line drive off of the bat of Blake Stouffer to end the Aggies’ threat in the fifth and then pitched the rest of the game, allowing only two hits and a no walks and one meaningless Aggie run in the ninth.


“I used the same approach as I did against St. John’s,” said St. Clair, who also had an extended 4.1-inning outing in the Regional against the Red Storm. “I gained momentum throughout (this outing).”


Aggies coach Rob Childress said, “St. Clair stabilized the game [for Rice]. He was really effective."

Chad Mozingo, batting eighth in the Rice batting order also excelled, going 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs. Including Dodson, the Owls’ eight and nine hitters went 5 for 6 with two walks, four RBI and four runs.

The Aggies (46-17) had 10 hits in defeat, with Anders, Stouffer and Brown each collecting a pair of hits.

Game 2 of the Houston Super Regional is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday.