Rice Bounces Back

After stumbling out of the gates in their opening series against Cal-Poly, Wayne Graham's Rice Owls came home and got right back to what they know - hard work, and winning...

With what may be their most talented roster ever, the Owls looked poised to mow down every opponent it would face in the 2009 season.

The Rice Owls were ranked as high as #3 in the country in pre-season college baseball polls.

But somewhat surprisingly, after losing 2-of-3 games on their season opener on the road against Cal-Poly, the Owls began last week with a disappointing 1-2 record.

Just like he always does though, Rice skipper Wayne Graham righted the Owl ship in short order, and the Owls are now 5-2 after beating Houston on Tuesday night, then UCLA, Texas A&M, and Baylor on consecutive days in the Houston College Classic starting last Friday.

Tuesday night, Freshman Anthony Rendon showed why he was such a highly regarded recruit coming out of Houston Lamar High School. Rendon went 4-for-4 on the night, highlighted by a 3-run homer in the 4th inning. The Owls won Game 1 of the Silver Glove Series with Houston 9-2.

Rice carried that momentum forward to Minute Maid Park Friday when they took on UCLA in their first game of the Houston College Classic. They beat the Bruins in 10 innings 5-4, behind Mike Ojala's 6.2 inning, 11 strike-out performance. After appearances by Matt Evers and Mark Haynes, Senior Jordan Rogers pitched the final two frames to get the win for Rice, fanning 5 of the 6 Bruin batters he would face.

Saturday the Owls took on Texas A&M - a team they've gotten used to beating it seems.

The result was no different this time around, as Rice made it 6 wins in a row over the Ags.

Ryan Berry pitched a masterful, complete game 2-hit shutout, striking out 12 Aggie batters. The usually stellar Berry had struggled a bit on the opening West Coast road trip. A couple of mound sessions later and the junior from Humble was back to being incredible. Rice won 2-0, picking up runs in the 1st and 4th innings.

The Owls closed out the weekend by pounding #6 Baylor 8-3. Anthony Rendon provided the big bat once again with another 3-run homer to left center in the 5th inning. Rendon was officially 1-for-2 in the game but finished with 4 runs batted in.

Three Owls were named to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts: Mike Ojala, Ryan Berry, and Chad Mozingo. Ojala fanned 11 on Friday night; Berry pitched a complete game win over the Ags Saturday, and Mozingo hit .455 over the 3-day tournament.

Berry was also named Most Outstanding Player of the Houston College Classic.

The Owls are back in action Tuesday night when they travel up I-45 to Huntsville to take on Sam Houston State. The Bearkats are 6-3 in 2009 and are coached by Mark Johnson, who needs just 41 more wins to reach the 1,000 win milestone in his coaching career.

First pitch Tuesday night is at 6:30 pm.

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