March 13, 2013
HOUSTON - The Rice Owls prevailed after a six-run first inning to beat the visiting Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 7-5, in the second and final game of the midweek series Wednesday night in front of 3,175 fans at Reckling Park in Houston.
Rice (11-7) scored six runs in the bottom half of the first inning for the early 6-0 lead over LA Tech (5-13) after starting pitcher Omar Ugarte was relieved after suffering an ankle injury on a bunt single to the pitcher's mound. The inning was highlighted by an inside-the-park grand slam by Rice catcher Hunter Kopycinski on a ball that was lined over the head of center fielder Colby Johnson with the bases loaded and no outs.
"It is a bad start to the game when your starting pitcher is ineffective after two pitches, but I thought our guys played hard," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "When you are down to a team like Rice 7-0, usually it is ball game over, but our guys have some fight in them. Our guys fought hard, and that is one thing we are going to continue to do."
Ugarte (1-2) was charged with the loss after facing four batters and giving up three runs - all earned - on two hits in 0.1 inning of work. Left hander James Ferguson came on in relief of Ugarte in the first inning, followed by Sam Alvis, Adam Derouen, Caleb Dudley and Luke Giddens to close out the ball game.
Left hander Blake Fox (1-0) earned the win for the Owls after pitching three innings of three-hit baseball and no runs allowed. Fox came on in relief of starter Chase McDowell in the fourth inning. Jordan Stephens (1) closed out the ninth inning for Rice to earn his first save of the season in 1.1 innings pitched.
Tech added two more runs in the eighth after a double to right field by Burch put runners on second and third to bring up Ryan Jones who singled to right-center field to plate both runs and cut Rice's lead to 7-5.
The Bulldogs were led at the plate by Burch, who came on as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning to record two hits - one double - in as many plate appearances. Ervine also put together a 2-for-2 day at the plate, while Jones came on as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning to record two RBI for Tech with a hit.
Tech returns home for a 12-game home stand beginning with a three-game series versus Stephen F. Austin beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston.
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