May 31, 2013


Rice Slips Past San Francisco

By Isaac Rosenthal

Special to


EUGENE, Ore. - Blake Fox picked up the game-winning RBI on an 11th-inning single to give Rice a 3-2 win over San Francisco Friday to open the Eugene Regional, but Owls coach Wayne Graham was among the first to admit some of the credit should go to Mother Nature. 


With runners at the corners and two outs in the 11th, Fox sent a routine fly ball to left that Derek Atkinson lost track of, allowing Leon Byrd to walk in from third. To make matters worse for the Dons, Fox's game-winning hit was set up by a dropped third strike that extended the inning.


"Obviously we were grateful it was sunny day,” Graham said of the ball that Atkinson appeared to lose in the sun. "


Countered Dons coach Nino Giarratano: "When you come into this game that's kind of a fear you have as a coach. You don't want to have someone make that kind of a mistake and have to hold on to it.”


Outside of the final frame, there was much to like about the Dons’ performance. Starting pitcher Haden Hinkle gave up just four hits over 6.2, innings giving up a two-run homer to Geoff Perott but not much else.


Girratano then handed the ball off to his bullpen with five pitchers seeing between 0.1 and 1.1 innings, combing for four innings of scoreless relief before Fox's walk off. 

Their counterparts were every bit as good, though the Rice bullpen was nowhere near as busy. Austin Kubitza got the start for Rice, finishing with a seven-inning, two-run outing before Zech Lemond took over. 


Lemond held the Dons hitless over the final four innings and said he'd be fresh enough to pitch again tomorrow if need be – though this was met with a smile and a shake of the head from his coach. 


San Francisco will play South Dakota State game Saturday at 2 p.m. local time with Rice taking Oregon at 5 p.m.