March 1, 2011
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TUCSON, Ariz. -- After the Rice baseball team battled back from an eight-run deficit to tie the game in the late innings, Arizona pushed across a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to claim a 10-8 win over the visiting Owls in the first of a two-game series against the Wildcats Tuesday evening in Tucson, Ariz.
Even after battling back to tie the game which initially looked like a runaway, the Owls have to feel the deficit should never have existed in the first place. Two Rice fielding errors in the second and fifth innings accounted for a total of six unearned runs for the Wildcats.
Arizona jumped on the scoreboard for a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Joey Rickard led off with a base hit to left and Cole Frenzel followed with an RBI double to center field. Cole scored on a one-out single up the middle for a quick 2-0 advantage.
With two away in the second the Owls threw wildly to first base on an infield grounder that extended the inning and led to a run. In the fourth the Owls had a ground ball that should have ended the inning, but an error extended the frame and Arizona proceeded to bat around for a total of five unearned runs that stretched the margin to 8-0.
The Owls batted around to tally five big runs in the top of the sixth. Keenan Cook drew a leadoff walk, J.T. Chargois singled through the right side and Anthony Rendon was walked to load the bases. Cook scored on a fielder's choice and Chargois came home on Chase McDowell's sacrifice fly that made it 8-2. The Blue & Gray wasn't finished yet, however, and after a single and two more walks loaded the bases Derek Hamilton singled up the middle to drive-in a pair that cut the lead to three, 8-5.
Rice then used an Arizona fielding error to help cut the lead to one, 8-7. Leadoff batter Chargois took two bases on the error and Rendon beat-out a ground ball hit in the hole on the right side to runners on the corners and Rathjen singled up the middle for the first run. Pinch-hitter Daniel Gonzales-Luna bunted safely for a hit that loaded the bases and Michael Ratterree's sacrifice fly made it a one-run game.
The Owls tied the game in the eighth after Hamilton singled and Hoelscher was hit by a pitch. Chargois sacrificed the runners into scoring position, but with first base open the Wildcats intentionally walked Rendon. Rathjen drew a walk force Hamilton home and it was a new game at 8-8.
Arizona came right back and notched two runs in the bottom of the frame. Joey Rickard drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice and stole third after a strikeout for the second out of the inning. He scored on Robert Refsnyder's double down the lf line to put UA ahead 9-8. The Wildcats added an insurance run with a Josh Garcia triple for a 10-8 score.
Junior Jeremy Rathjen finished the night with three RBI on a pair of hits while Derek Hamilton was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Sophomore right-hander Andrew Benak as sound and solid on the mound, working a season-best 3.0 innings and allowing just one hit.
Rice dropped to 5-3 overall and saw its four-game win streak come to an end. Arizona improved to 6-1 on the year.
Seven of the Owls' first nine games have been against teams from the Pac-10 Conference. Rice wraps-up its current Pac-10 stretch on Wednesday evening with game two of the series against the Wildcats. Start time from Tucson is set for 6 pm Mountain Time (7 pm Central).