Pitching and Defense! Rice Survives in Houston Regional

Houston, TX– There wasn’t a lot of offense to go around between the University of Houston Cougars and the Rice Owls. Pitching ruled the game and costly mistakes by Houston cost them in this battle between cross-town rivals.

There was virtually no offense until the top of the fifth when Rice scored the first two runs of the game. Tristan Gray led-off the inning with a single and Kirby Taylor reached on a SAC fielder’s choice when when UH starting pitcher Kyle Dowdy tried to get the lead runner at second. The top of the Owls lineup was up next as Grayson Lewis was hit by pitch to load the bases with one out. Charlie Warren had the big hit of the night as the 1-1 pitch was hit up the middle to score Gray and Taylor.

Glenn Otto came in from the bullpen in the sixth and he shut down the Cougars until the eighth inning when Corey Julks hit a big fly to left field to tie the game. The homer was Julks’ second of the regional and fifth of the season.

That would be the final offense for over 11 innings in this one as Rice finally scored in the top half of the 20th inning to win the game 3-2. Owls center fielder Ryan Chandler hit a 1-1 pitch back up the middle with out out to get things started. Following Chandler was Rice infielder Leon Byrd who hit a double into the right field corner to score the winning run. Leon Byrd opened up about his clutch hit in the post-game, “I came in, I think around the 11th or 12th or so. So I had been sitting around for God knows how long…three hours, four hours. You know coming into the 20th inning, I just really wanted to do something for my team just so we could make it to the last day.”

Getting the win for Rice was reliever Austin Orewiler who pitched 9.1 innings and gave up no runs on three hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. Owls head coach Wayne Graham addressed the pitching after the game saying that it was a redemption for them, ” Orewiler had a rough outing the other day, and he was phenomenal tonight. And for Glenn Otto, we probably haven’t pitched him enough this year. I thought he was wonderful, pitching in general. It’s obvious he’s extraordinary because Houston has been a good hitting team.”

The UH Cougars will end the season with a 43-20 overall record and a regular season championship in the American Athletic Conference. Rice will play the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns at 1:00 on Monday. A win for the Rice Owls will force a winner take all game at 7:00 on Monday evening at Cougar Field, where a Rice loss would crown the Ragin Cajuns as the winners of the Houston Regional.

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