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Wounded Ojala, Mozingo lead
By Allen Brown
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
Junior righty Mike Ojala pitched
seven strong innings, and Chad Mozingo went 3 for 4 to lead Rice
to a 5-2 win over pesky Sam Houston State.
Ojala, who has yet to lose a
game in his three-year career, has been pitching for over a
month with a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his
elbow. His velocity has suffered, and he is limited in the
amount of pitches he can throw.
Ojala said he “has had to learn
how to pitch” and take a more cerebral approach on the mound
since his injury. Ojala (5-0) tossed seven innings, yielding
only one earned run on seven hits. He said that his arm “felt as
good as it is going to feel” and that the adrenaline of the
postseason also helped him battle through seven innings.
The Owls (40-15), who have
struggled recently in the bullpen, turned to junior righty Mark
Haynes for the eighth and ninth innings, and Haynes was
effective, allowing a run on two hits in his first save of the
Mozingo recently broke his right
hand while batting. He wore tape with a protective pad on his
right hand during the game. Mozingo shrugged off the effects of
the tape and pad on his swing.
“The [injury] keeps him from
trying to hit home runs all the time and focus on hitting line
drives,” Owls coach Wayne Graham said.
The second batter of the game for
Sam Houston State, third baseman Ryan Mooney, hit a home run to
left field to briefly give the Bearkats (36-23) a 1-0 lead. Rice
countered with single runs in the second, third and fifth
innings. The Owls also plated two insurance runs in the bottom
of the eighth inning on a RBI single by Ryan Lewis and a
bases-loaded walk to Brock Holt.
Freshman righty Sean Weatherford
(8-6) had an impressive start for Bearkats, working into the
seventh inning with eight hits, a walk, two earned runs and
“Sean threw the ball really
well…he stayed within himself…he gave us a chance to win,” Sam
Houston State coach Mark Johnson said.
Mooney (3 for 4) was the lone
hitting star for the Bearkats as he went 3 for 4.
Graham, who called Sam Houston
State “the toughest No. 4 seed in the country,” lauded the
“courageous performances” of both Mozingo and Ojala.
The Owls’ pitching is now lined
up well for the remainder of the weekend, with Ryan Berry
available to start on Saturday and Taylor Wall available on
When questioned about the Owls’
matchup on Saturday with Kansas State and the prospects of
facing its ace A.J. Morris, Graham said, “It will be a
challenge, but I kind of like our guy, too.”
Berry is 7-0 on the season for