May 31, 2013
Rice Slips Past San Francisco
By Isaac Rosenthal
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
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
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.