June 9, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

Zornes Powers Rice Back to Omaha

Two-run homer in eighth lifts Owls to victory


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 - After trailing almost the whole game - and down 5-2 after the fifth inning - Rice catcher Adam Zornes’ dramatic two-run home run with two outs in the top the eighth erased a 5-4 deficit and gave the Rice Owls a 6-5 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies and a sweep of the Super Regional series.


The Owls (47-13) will be making their third straight trip to College World Series.
Rice’s bullpen was stellar once again as Bryan Price pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, surrendering only one hit from two outs in the fifth through the end of the seventh inning to allow the Owls to come back in the eighth against the Aggies (46-19).

The Owls turned to Bobby Bell after Zornes’ home run gave the Owls the lead in the top of the eighth. Bell walked a batter in both the eighth and ninth innings but did not allow any hits and struck out the first two batters he faced in the eighth and then induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play from Brian Ruggiano after walking Luke Anders with one out in the ninth.

“This is what I worked for (in rehab) … all the hard work is paying off,” said Bell, who faced numerous setbacks during his 14 months of rehab which concluded in April after arm surgery. “At one point, I didn’t know if I would make it back in time.”


The Owls are certainly glad that he did, as he has pitched 8.2 scoreless and nearly flawless innings in the postseason, picking up a win and two saves.
Zornes (left, photo courtesy of Rice media relations office), who went 2 for 4 on the day, jumped all over the first pitch from Aggie closer Travis Starling and hammered a line drive against the wind over the 375-foot sign in left center. Prior to the Zornes home run, Rick Hague was the hitting star for the Owls as he drove in all of the Owls’ first four runs with a two-RBI double in the fourth and a two-RBI bad-hop single in the sixth. Hague went 3 for 4 on the day. He has now hit in 13 of his past 14 games. J.P. Padron also had two hits for the Owls and Diego Seastrunk and Aaron Luna both scored two runs for the Owls.
Freshman Aggie righty Barrett Loux was by far the most effective starting pitcher in the series as he pitched into the seventh for the Aggies, allowing only six hits and a walk and two earned runs. He retired eight Owls in a row between the first and fourth innings. Brodie Greene also had two hits and two runs for the Aggies, who had leads of 2-0 after three innings and 5-2 after five.