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Monday Regional Scores
By Allen Brown
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
HOUSTON - The Rice Owls (43-16) are headed
to their fifth straight Super Regional appearance (and ninth
overall) after completing the comeback from Saturday's 7-6 loss
to defeat Kansas State (43-18-1) by the score of 13-4 on Monday
evening at Reckling Park in Houston before a full house of
4,589. The Owls now advance to play the third-seeded LSU Tigers
in Baton Rouge next weekend.
The Owls tied a season high with 20 hits on the
evening with Jimmy Comerota going 4 for 5 and Michael Fuda going
4 for 4 and scoring three runs each. Rick Hague, Brock Holt, and
Anthony Rendon also had three hits apiece.
Lefty Thomas Rooke made his first career start
for K State (after 58 relief appearances in two seasons) and was
greeted rudely in the first by the Rice offense as the Owls
scored two in the opening frame. Brock Holt led off the game
with an opposite-field double for the Owls and then Rick Hague
singled him home on the first pitch he saw from Rooke. Michael
Fuda hit a sacrifice fly to right field later in the inning to
score Hague to give the Owls a 2-0 lead.
Mark Haynes got the start for the Owls, only his
third of the season. Wildcats third baseman Jason King led off
the second inning with a home run to right field off of Haynes
and then Haynes also got into trouble in the third, mostly of
his own doing. After Adam Muenster singled with one out, Haynes
hit both Clayton Jurica and Nick Martini to load the bases for
the streaking KSU cleanup hitter Justin Bloxom. Haynes coaxed a
potential double play grounder to first baseman Jimmy Comerota,
who whirled and threw quickly and accurately to second base.
However, Haynes failed to cover first base for the return throw
from second and thus, Bloxom reached on a fielder's choice and K
State scored to tie the game at 2.
The game remained tied until Rice exploded for
six runs in the bottom of the fourth and put the game out of
reach. Michael Fuda, who came to Rice on a football scholarship
as a wide receiver, legged out an infield hit to lead off the
inning and Chad Mozingo, the last batter that Thomas Rooke
faced, followed with a walk. Jimmy Comerota then executed a
perfect bunt down the third base line which he beat out at
first. The throw to first from K State third sacker King was in
the dirt, allowing Fuda to streak home from third. After
consecutive RBI singles to left field from Holt and Hague, Diego
Seastrunk deposited a 1-2 fastball from reliever James Allen
over the fence in right center field for a three-run home run.
Seastrunk, who entered the regional hitting a disappointing .274
for the season, had seven hits, including two home runs, a
double, and seven RBI in the regional.
Meanwhile, Matthew Reckling (2-2) stabilized the
game for Rice in middle relief. In all, Reckling worked four
innings allowing three hits and one walk and only two unearned
runs. Reckling, whose only other comparably successful outing
was his four-inning start (yielding only two hits and one run)
at home versus Texas on March 17th in a Rice 6-3 win, also in
front of a sell out crowd, stated, "I feel like I pitch better
in the big games. I like pitching in front of big crowds."
By the time he left the game with two outs in the
Wildcats’ seventh, Rice led 10-3. Ryan Berry, who threw 125
pitches on Saturday night, worked the final two innings in
relief for the Owls.
Coach Wayne Graham summed up the regional
tournament for the Owls stating, "It's always great to win and
even greater when you come out of the losers’ bracket. It speaks
to the character of the team."