After reeling off 23 wins over a stretch of six weeks in April and May, the Rice Owls looked practically unbeatable. Maybe they needed a reality check. That's definitely what the Owls got when they were summarily eliminated from the Conference USA Tournament in two games to UAB and East Carolina, mustering only 5 runs between the two games. I would have hated to be near Coach Graham on the return trip from New Orleans.
A win is never good technically, but if the Owls had to have a time when they would falter perhaps it happened when it needed to. After all, they had wrapped up a 13th Conference Championship prior to the C-USA Tournament and were assured of hosting a Regional. As any good team does, they got the losses out of their system quickly and came out ready to play last weekend.
The Owls beat Sam Houston State, St. John's, and Texas in consecutive games to advance and placed 5 Rice players on the Houston Regional All Tournament Team in the process – C Adam Zornes, 1B JP Padron, 2B Jimmy Comerota, SS Rick Hague, and OF Chad Mozingo.
Rice was awarded a Super Regional host site on Monday and will host the winner of the College Station Regional, Texas A&M, in a best of three series. The match up is a repeat of last year's Super Regional. The winner of this weekend's series again advances to the College World Series in Omaha.
More on the Aggies
Just like the Owls, the Aggies won the regular season Big 12 Championship. They too sputtered in their Conference Tournament, losing 2 of 3 games. They are coached by Rob Childress, who is in his 3rd year with the Aggies. Childress replaced long time Aggie skipper Mark Johnson, who after a short time away from the game was hired by Sam Houston State. He was an assistant at Nebraska, where he and Aggie AD Bill Byrne worked together, thus making him an obvious candidate when the search for a new coach began. Childress spent his first season retooling the Ags roster and putting his thumbprint on the program. The Ags finished 25-30-1 in his first year. 2007 was a turnaround however.
Last year the Aggie program took a giant back towards the results that made the Ags one of the better programs in the country during the late 80's. Childress, it seems has turned the program around after getting his team to a second consecutive Super Regional birth this year.
The Aggies won 3-of-4 games last weekend, clinching the Regional title by beating the University of Houston 13-5 on Monday night. The Ags are red hot at the plate – they scored 53 runs in their 4 College Station Regional games, hitting 10 Home Runs along the way.
Team Statistics: Rice Owls
Batting Average: The Owls are hitting .308 as a team, led by Diego Seastrunk's .363 avg. Owl Slugging % is .453,p> Runs Scored: For the season 432, and average of 7.45 runs per game
Home Runs: Rice has hit 51 Home Runs this year, led by Adam Zornes team leading 11
Stolen Bases: The Owls have been successful on 56 of 80 stolen base attempts, a 70% success rate
Pitching: The team ERA is 3.55, led by Ryan Berry's 3.00 ERA over 96 innings pitched. Cole St. Clair has a 9-2 record with a 2.65 in a utility role. Berry's 84 Strikeouts set the team high mark.
Team Statistics: Texas A&M Aggies
Batting Average: The Ags are hitting .315 as a team, lead by Jose Duran's .382 avg. Slugging % for the Ags is .505
Runs Scored: The Aggies have scored 504 runs in 2008, a game avg. of 8.05 runs
Home Runs: A&M has 81 Home Runs on the year, led by Luke Anders' 15, and Kyle Colligan's 14
Stolen Bases: Texas A&M is 87 of 122 on stolen bases attempts, a 71% success rate
Pitching: The Ags' team ERA is 3.95. Kyle Thebeau paces the Aggie staff with a 1.95 ERA over 73.2 innings pitched. Barrett Loux leads all Aggie hurlers with 80 strikeouts.
First game of the three game Super Regional series is Saturday June 7th at 2:00 pm. For additional information check out the Rice Athletic site – www.riceowls.cstv.com