May 15, 2014
HOUSTON - Louisiana Tech fought back from a four-run deficit to make it a 4-2 ball game, but John Clay Reeves' grand slam in the seventh inning helped give No. 14 Rice an 11-2 victory over the Bulldogs in the series opener on Thursday night at Reckling Park.
Rice (35-17, 21-7 C-USA) scored six runs from the third inning to the sixth, but it was five runs the Owls put up in the seventh that extended the lead and gave the Conference USA leads a series-opening victory over LA Tech (15-33, 5-23 C-USA) on Thursday.
Kevin McCanna (6-3) started for Rice and earned the victory after giving up two runs - one earned - on seven hits in eight full innings on the bump. McCanna struck out eight LA Tech batters in as many innings, before Austin Orewiler came in to pitch the ninth and shut down the Bulldogs in order to close out the win for the Owls.
Phil Maton (3-9) was charged with the loss after allowing six runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings in relief of Austin Greer. Greer started for the Bulldogs and received a no decision after pitching 2.1 innings and allowing no runs on four hits with a pair of strikeouts. Laetten Galbraith came on to pitch in the sixth and gave up four runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. Eric Dunbar closed things out for LA Tech, as the freshman gave up one run on a hit in 1.2 innings on the mound. Dunbar struck out three in the outing.
Rice threatened to take an early lead in the second when both Skyler Ewing and Ford Stainback attempted to score from second on base hits, but Taylor Burch and Bre'shon Kimbell saved the Bulldogs from a deficit after gunning down two runners at home to keep it a scoreless ball game.
The Owls added to their lead in the fifth after Aquino, Ewing and Teykl had three consecutive singles with two outs in the frame to give Rice a 4-0 lead heading to the sixth inning in the series opener.
LA Tech made its own dent in the scoreboard in the top of the sixth when Colby Johnson and Ryan Jones led off the inning with singles to give the Bulldogs' two on and no outs. A passed ball allowed both runners to move up to second and third, before Tyler Qualls came through with an RBI single over the second baseman's head to score Johnson and give Tech its first run of the game. A wild pitch in the next at bat allowed Jones to score from third, which cut Rice's lead to 4-2 after five and a half innings.
Rice answered back in the bottom half of the sixth when the Owls once again mounted a two-out rally to add to their lead. Leon Byrd led off the inning with a single and later scored on an RBI single by Chase McDowell to give Rice a 5-2 lead. The Owls scored their second run of the inning on an RBI single by Aquino, his third hit of the game, as Rice took a 6-2 lead over LA Tech heading to the seventh inning.
The Owls added to their lead in a big way in the seventh with five runs scored, including a grand slam to left field by Rice catcher Reeves to give Rice an 11-2 advantage over the Bulldogs.
Reeves led the Owls at the plate with a 2-for-5 effort, including a grand slam, four runs batted in and a run scored. Aquino, Ewing and Byrd each had three hits apiece for Rice, as the Owls totaled 18 hits on the night.
Johnson reached base in three plate appearances for the Bulldogs with a 2-for-2 day at the dish. Johnson also scored a run and walked. Qualls had the only RBI base hit of the night, to go along with a walk for the Bulldog catcher.
The series continues at 6:30 p.m. first pitch at Reckling Park in Houston. The Bulldogs are scheduled to send freshman right-hander Braden Bristo to the mound, while Rice will counter with left-hander Blake Fox.
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