May 20, 2011
- J. T. Chargois had four hits and drove in four runs to lead No. 17 Rice to a 16-2 C-USA baseball victory and clinch at least a share of a conference title, as they defeated No. 14 Southern Miss at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field Friday night.
The Golden Eagles (37-15, 15-8) still have an opportunity to clinch a share of the regular season title tomorrow, their first since 2003, when they close out the three-game Conference USA series. Game time is set for 1 p.m.
Rice (38-17, 16-7) used a pair of five-run innings and took advantage of three Southern Miss errors to build their lead and take the series victory.
Southern Miss got into trouble early on as the Owls put their first three batters on base.
Keenan Cook lined a single into right center ahead of Chargois' single through the right side. Anthony Rendon worked the count to the tune of his conference best 76th walk of the season.
Following a strikeout, Craig Manuel pushed right fielder Marc Bourgeois to the wall, deep enough to bring in Cook from third for the first run of the game.
Down 1-0, Southern Miss starter Geoffrey Thomas was able to strike out his second batter of the evening, Shane Hoelscher, to get out of the inning without further damage.
In the second, the Owls kept the scoring going as Michael Fuda drew a lead off walk.
Derek Hamilton then followed up with a double into the corner in leftfield that was errantly thrown back into the field by left fielder Kameron Brunty. The ball found its way into the Golden Eagle bullpen, and with Hamilton already rounding second on the play, he was awarded home to put Rice up 3-0.
Rice got their first big inning of the ball game in the third, a five-run effort aided by two Southern Miss errors, including a dropped foul ball, and three hits.
Southern Miss escaped the inning as B.A. Vollmuth made a diving play to knock the ball down at the line and get the runner, Rendon, out at first.
In the fourth, the Eagles got their first inning of just three batters as Hoelscher followed a ground out and a walk by hitting into a double play started by Day, the 76th twin-killing Southern Miss has turned this season.
Southern Miss got on the board in the fourth as Vollmuth led off with a double into the left field corner. Following a ground out to the right side to advance the runner, Rice starter Matthew Reckling let a ball sail wild to allow the runner to come in, making it 8-1.
Ashley Graeter followed up with a single to left field, his second of the night, and stayed alive at second after a throwing error by Chargois that would have started the double play off the bat of Adam Doleac.
Isaac Rodriguez drew a five pitch walk to load the bases and third baseman Mark Ellis was hit by the would-be fourth ball to bring in the second run of the inning, 8-2.
Rice coach Wayne Graham had seen enough of Reckling, pulling him in favor of lefty Abe Gonzales who entered with the bases loaded full of Eagles.
Gonzales was able to get the next two batters out to end the threat and the inning.
Rice added five more runs in the fifth including a two-run shot from Ratterree down the left field line, his sixth of the season, off relief pitcher Jackson Posey to push their lead to 13-2.
The Owls added a single run in the sixth but relief pitcher Paxton King settled in to sit down seven in a row before allowing a hit in the eighth. King finished the game with five strikeouts, a new career high. In his three innings of work, he did not allow a run and surrendered just a pair of singles.
In the ninth, Rice added two more runs with a two-out double off reliever Matt Warren, the sixth Golden Eagle pitcher of the evening.
Thomas (10-3) suffered the loss on two innings of work after allowing six runs (two earned) on four hits. He struck out four batters and walked three.
Abe Gonzales (6-2) picked up the win after the starter, Reckling, failed to go the necessary five innings. Gonzales worked 3.1 innings without allowing a run.
Tomorrow's game will also be Senior Day as eight seniors will play their final regular season home game at "The Pete."