Owls Head Way Downtown This Weekend For Games At Minute Maid Park

March 3, 2011

After splitting a two-game series with nationally-ranked Arizona on the road earlier this week in Tucson, Ariz. (March 1-2), the 15th-ranked Rice baseball team (6-4) meets three more tough opponents this weekend at the annual Houston College Classic Tournament (Mar. 4-6). The tournament is downtown at Minute Maid Park, major league home of the Houston Astros. The Owls face SEC foe Kentucky (4-4) at 7 pm on Friday, nationally-ranked Texas A&M (6-1) at 7 pm on Saturday and Baylor (4-4) at 2:30 pm Sunday. Tickets to the event are available at the Rice Ticket Office or may be purchased on-line at the above link. Rice has played in this elite tournament every year since it began in 2001 ... The link for the Rice Internet audio is above, while the respective live stats links are as follows:

Mar. 4 (Fri.) 7 pm; Rice (home) vs. Kentucky (vis.) at Minute Maid Park
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Mar. 5 (Sat.) 7 pm; Rice (home) vs. Texas A&M (vis.) at Minute Maid Park
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Mar. 6 (Sun.) 2:30 pm; Rice (vis.) vs. Baylor (home) at Minute Maid Park
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Internet features activate at game time.

Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at Use the above link to access the Internet audio home page. The Rice broadcasting tag-team this season is primarily J.P. Heath and David Brady, with help from some of our Rice broadcasting friends and baseball alumni. Tune-in to the pregame show 30 minutes before each game's first pitch

Live Stats On GameTracker
Live play-by-play text and statistics from every Rice game will be posted on Look for the GameTracker links on either the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview or the baseball schedule page.

Rice At Minute Maid Park
Rice will be playing at the Houston College Classic for the 11th year in a row. The Owls are 22-8 in 30 games at Minute Maid Park. Rice went 2-1 at the tournament last season, falling to Texas 2-1, and defeating Texas Tech 3-2 and TCU 5-4... When playing at Minute Maid Park, Rice is 3-2 vs. Texas A&M and 5-1 vs. Baylor... The Blue & Gray is also 2-3 vs. Texas, 6-0 vs. Texas Tech, 2-0 vs. TCU, 1-0 vs. Kansas State, 1-0 vs. Oklahoma, 1-0 vs. Oklahoma State, 1-0 vs. UCLA, and 0-1 vs. Alabama and 0-1 vs. Vanderbilt... The Owls won all three of their games in the inaugural tournament in 2001, but have had plenty of drama downtown over the years. Jesse Roman hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning vs. Baylor for the Owls' 1-0 victory in the first college game ever played in what was then called Enron Field. A highlight of 2002 was Dane Bubela's home run in the top of the 12th to give Rice' a 10-9 victory over Baylor. The Blue & Gray lost its first game of the 2003 season on a Sunday at Minute Maid by a score of 6-5 to Alabama (Feb. 16). The most notable aspect of the 2003 tournament was that it served as surreal springboard for the next few weeks. After falling to Alabama by a single run the Owls won 30 games in a row and didn't lose again for nearly two months. Rice went on to claim the national championship. In 2005 Rice junior pitcher and future major leaguer Josh Geer was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Geer held nationally-ranked Texas A&M in check for 8.0 innings, allowing just one run (unearned), one hit and two walks with five strikeouts in front of a raucous crowd. He retired 21 in a row at one point and induced 16 ground ball outs. In 2009 the Owls had a whirlwind three days at the Classic, defeating UCLA in ten innings when Michael Fuda scored from second base on an infield hit. Eventual MLB draft pick Ryan Berry then showcased a pitching performance that was maybe even more dominating than Geer's two years before. Berry fired a complete-game two-hit shutout victory against Texas A&M. The Humble, Tex., native allowed just one hit through the first eight innings, struck out 12 and did not walk a batter. For his efforts Berry was named the Most Outstanding Player of the College Classic, the National Pitcher of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and the C-USA Pitcher of the Week... In 2010 it was three nail-biting, one-run games against three longtime state rivals (Texas, TCU and Texas Tech). Texas was No. 3 in the country and TCU went on to play in the College World Series... Rice enters the 2011 College Classic having won eight-of-nine games played at Minute Maid Park.

National Ranking Update • Rice Ranges From 15th To 23rd In Various Polls
After the first two weekends of the season the Owls are holding at 15th in the nation according to Rice was 14th in the nation in that poll to start the 2011 season. Here's a closer look at the current polls:

PollThis WeekLast week
USA Today/ESPN2017
Baseball America2122
Collegiate Baseball Magazine2322

99th Season Since The Start; 95th Season On The Field
The 2011 season marks the 99th year since Rice played baseball for the first time. Rice Owls baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2011 season is, however, only the Owls' 95th season on the diamond. The school canceled its season in 1919 and did not field a team for three years (1933-35) during the Great Depression. Rice returned to the diamond in the spring of 1936 and has been playing ever since... The baseball program's all-time record is 1,783-1,453-9.

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 20th season at Rice. The 2011 campaign marks his 31st year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 876-344 with the Owls (531-118 at home, 263-178 in road games and 82-48 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .718, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .718 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. Kentucky is 0-0... vs. Texas A&M is 30-17 (17-4 home, 7-11 away, 6-2 neutral)... and vs. Baylor is 28-17 (16-7 home, 7-9 away, 5-1 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2010, making 16-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship... Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07 and `09... Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08 and `10... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... One of the few current collegiate coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Mike Taylor (Prairie View A&M, 1997; 11th year), David Pierce (Houston, 1988; ninth year), Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; sixth year)... Taylor coaches at third base this year while Hallmark coaches at first base.

1,451 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 876 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,451 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,451-457 in a 30-year career that began in 1981.

Wayne Graham Radio Show Set To Debut This Monday, Mar. 7!
A new Rice baseball radio show featuring the Owls' legendary head coach Wayne Graham is set to debut in March and air live on a weekly basis, announced Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan Feb. 8 in conjunction with Rice Sports Properties, the multimedia rights partner for the University and IMG College property... The Wayne Graham Radio Show presented by Waste Management, will air live from Prince's Restaurant near the Southwest Freeway and will be broadcast in the Houston area on 1560 AM The Game (KGOW), and around the world on A total of nine, hour-long shows over an 11-week span begin at 7 pm on March 7 and run through the remainder of the regular season. Coach Graham, with Rice baseball broadcaster David Brady, will review games from the previous weekend and preview upcoming series. In addition to discussions on college baseball's national rankings and chase for the Conference USA championship, each week's show will include current members of the team, former Owl players and special guests. There is also a segment for fans to ask Coach Graham a question. It's a unique opportunity for baseball fans to get direct insight from one of the college game's most successful icons... "This is a great opportunity to increase the dialogue between Rice Baseball and its fans," said Coach Graham. "It is also a wonderful opportunity to increase the visibility of college baseball in Houston. I am looking forward to the show, and the upcoming season."

Probable Rice Pitcher
Wayne Graham announced the Owls starting pitchers for the Houston College Classic as the right-handed trio of Matthew Reckling (1-0, 1.80), Austin Kubitza (0-1, 3.86) and John Simms (0-0, 1.69), respectively.

  • Reckling has posted some steady statistical totals in both of his first two outings the last two weekends. In his 2011 debut against No. 13 ranked Stanford (Feb. 19), Reckling held the heavy-hitting Cardinal scoreless for a career-long 6.0 innings, scattering four hits and allowing two walks with four strikeouts. The outing was the team's (and his) first win of the season and earned him the first C-USA Pitcher of the Week award in his Rice career. The following weekend against Pac-10 foe Southern California, the Houston native from Kinkaid H.S. posted a career-best seven strikeouts in just 4.0 frames. Over his two starts this season Reckling has held all opposing hitters to a composite .216 batting average.
  • Freshman Austin Kubitza made his first collegiate start on Feb. 20 against the nationally-ranked Stanford Cardinal and was impressive enough in that outing, as well as in a start the following weekend against Southern Cal (Feb. 26), to hold his spot in the weekend rotation for the Houston College Classic. Against Stanford Kubitza allowed just two earned runs over 6.0 innings of work while striking out five. The Colleyville, Tex., native from Heritage High School came back the following week and fanned a career-high seven USC Trojans in 5.2 frames of a no-decision. In two collegiate starts Kubitza has maintained a 4-to-1 srikeouts-to-walks ratio.
  • This year John Simms became the first Owl freshman to start on the mound on Opening Day (Feb. 18) since eventual first round major league draft pick Joe Savery earned the honor during his rookie year in 2005. Simms has pitched with aplomb in both starts, against No. 13 Stanford and Southern Cal last weekend. The standout from The Woodlands, Tex., has pitched at least 5.0 innings in both outings and held the Pac-10 foes to a combined 1.69 ERA. After earning high school All-America honors at College Park HS, he was selected in the 2010 Major League draft by the Washington Nationals, but declined the pro offer and went on to pitch for the United States 18 & Under National Team over the summer of 2010. He enrolled at Rice in August and proved to be one of the top pitchers during the fall practices.
  • Rice's three Minute Maid opponents have announced their starting pitchers as sophomore left-hander Taylor Rogers (0-0, 3.55); sophomore right-hander Michael Wacha (2-0, 0.00); and sophomore left-hander Josh Turley (0-0, 4.66), respectively.

Previous Outing: Owls Top Arizona 11-7 Wednesday To Earn Series Split With No. 11 Wildcats
TUCSON -- The Rice baseball team used a big eight-run inning in the fifth and sophomore right-hander Chase McDowell worked a career-long 5.2 frames to help lead the Owls to an 11-7 road victory over nationally-ranked Arizona Wednesday evening in Tucson, Ariz... Rice quickly struck for a run in the top of the first inning. J.T. Chargois punched a one-out base-hit up the middle and scored on a long double to center field by Anthony Rendon... Arizona answered with a run in the bottom of the frame. Cole Frenzel drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a single by Jett Bandy. Frenzel scored on a single by Josh Garcia and the game was knotted-up 1-1... The Wildcats made the most some small-ball for a pair of runs in the second. After a leadoff single, three-straight infield hits led to a run with the bases still loaded. The Owls were able to turn a double-play, but another run came home to stretch the margin to 3-1 with only one ball leaving the infield... Just when it appeared both teams were settling-in with some scoreless innings, Rice exploded for eight big runs in the top of the fifth. Geoff Perrott led it with a solo home run to left field for his first career round-tripper. Pinch-hitter Daniel Gonzales-Luna walked and Chargois singled to put two men on for Rendon. The junior slugger hit a pitch into the right field corner for a stand-up triple and a pair of RBI. Rendon then scored on a Jeremy Rathjen sacrifice fly to tie the game, 4-4, but Blue & Gray wasn't finished at the plate... The Owls drew three-straight walks to load the bases and an infield single by Perrott scored one. Gonzales-Luna walked-in a run and Michael Ratterree followed with the first of his three hits to score two more to give Rice a 9-3 lead... Both teams tacked-on two runs in the seventh to make the score 11-6. The Wildcats added a final run in the bottom of the ninth for an 11-7 final. Ratterree, Rendon and Craig Manuel all had three hits on the night for the Owls... Almost lost in the offensive fireworks was a career-long 5.2 innings by McDowell. The College Station, Tex., native allowed just three earned runs while striking out three for his first collegiate victory... Rice improved to 6-4 on the season. Arizona suffered only its second loss of the year to fall to 6-2... Eight of the Owls' first 10 games have been against teams from the Pac-10 Conference. Rice plays another Pac-10 foe, the Cal Golden Bears, next weekend at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Rice Tenth In Home Attendance (Feb. 28)
Rice has drawn almost 26,000 fans to Reckling Park through Feb. 28 (the first seven home games of the season). The Owls are now 10th in the nation in total home attendance. Here are the early national attendance leaders.
1. LSU 74,863 (7 games)
2. Arkansas 45,816 (6 games)
3. South Carolina 45,787 (6 games)
4. Mississippi State 40,279 (7games)
5. Mississippi 40,014 (5 games)
6. Florida State 34,440 (7 games)
7. TCU 29,711 (6 games)
8. Hawaii 27,037 (7 games)
9. Texas A&M 26,655 (7 games)
10. Rice 25,888 (7 games)

Rice Now 15th In Average Home Attendance (Feb. 28)
Rice baseball is averaging a steady 3,698 fans per home game. That's the 15th highest total in the country as of Feb. 28.

Best Opening Weekend In Reckling Park History
The Stanford series proved to be the best-attended opening weekend in Reckling Park history. Here's how some other opening weekends have added-up. (Many of the previous home-opening weekends were in a tournament format against three different opponents.)
Year, 1st Weekend Total (Average)
1. 2011 - 12,182 (4,060)
2. 2009 - 10,950 (3,650)
3. 2004 - 10,117 (3,372)
4. 2010 - 9,198 (3,066)
5. 2001 - 8,885 (2,961)

Rice Baseball Picked For Seven Televised Games This Season
HOUSTON - Rice baseball is slated to have seven of its regular season games televised, Conference USA and Rice Athletics Director Rick Greenspan announced. With a winning tradition and a fan-and-TV-friendly Reckling Park as its home stadium, the Owls are again a favorite for live televised broadcasts. CBS Sports Network (formerly CBS College Sports - CBSC), a national leader in televising a host of collegiate sporting events, will nationally televise Rice's May 19 road game against Southern Miss. The contest is a rematch of the same two teams that a year ago met in the Conference USA Championship Final. Six games are regional telecasts on Comcast Sports Southwest (CSS) that have potential for wider distribution. Three of the CSS games will be played at Reckling Park. All five games of the Owls' annual season-long series against crosstown rival Houston will be broadcast on CSS. Rice's April 12 home game against longtime foe Texas A&M is now a CSS game.

The C-USA Favorites
IRVING, Tex. - With returning National Player of the Year Anthony Rendon tabbed as the 2011 Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year, along with fellow Owls Jeremy Rathjen and Taylor Wall selected as preseason all-conference honorees, the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in a head coaches poll, the C-USA office announced... Rice, East Carolina and Southern Miss all had three preseason honorees, sharing the most of any school in the annual coaches' survey... Already a unanimous preseason All-America selection, the C-USA coaches voted Rendon as the favorite to win what would be his third C-USA Player of the Year Award in as many seasons. The Owls' junior third baseman became the first freshman to win the C-USA player of the year award in 2009, and then just the second player in league history to earn the honor twice when he won it again in 2010. A year ago Rendon batted .394 and ranked among the NCAA leaders in home runs (26), RBI (85) and slugging percentage (.801). The Houston native from nearby Lamar High School was named the recipient of the 2010 Howser Trophy as the National Player of the Year... Junior outfielder Jeremy Rathjen earned second team all-conference honors after a solid sophomore season in 2010. A year ago Rathjen batted a steady .317 with 13 home runs. The local standout from Memorial High School drove-in 69 runs and scored 52 times in 57 games played... Taylor Wall is a left-handed pitcher who earned second-team all-Conference USA accolades in 2010. Wall went 5-5 with a 4.45 ERA in 15 starts. The Houston native from Westside High School finished among the C-USA leaders in starts, innings pitched (85.0) and strikeouts (61). He held all opponents to a composite .233 batting average.

(as selected by C-USA's head coaches)

1. Rice (6)
2. Southern Miss (2)
3. East Carolina
4. UCF (1)
5. Tulane
6. Memphis
7. Houston
8. Marshall
9. UAB
(first place votes in parentheses)

Anthony Rendon, Rice (Junior, Third Baseman)

Todd McInnis, Southern Miss (Senior, RHP)

P, Seth Maness, Sr., East Carolina
P, Todd McInnis, Sr., Southern Miss
P, Taylor Wall, Jr., Rice
RP, Collin Cargill, Sr., Southern Miss
C, Victor Gomez, Jr., Marshall
IF, Garrett Cannizaro, So., Tulane
IF, Anthony Rendon, Jr., Rice
IF, Corey Thompson, Jr., East Carolina
IF, B.A. Vollmuth, Jr., Southern Miss
IF, Chad Zurcher, Jr., Memphis
OF, Jamal Austin, Jr., UAB
OF, Drew Martinez, Jr., Memphis
OF, Trent Whitehead, Sr., East Carolina
DH/UT, Jeremy Rathjen, Jr., Rice

Career Longball Leaders
As the 2010 national player of the year and a unanimous 2011 preseason All-America selection, junior third baseman Anthony Rendon has both the eye of the media covering college baseball, and the full-attention opposition. It seemed it was only going to be a matter of time before he broke into the Rice top ten for career home runs, and he enters his junior year already in the top three. The junior standout from nearby Lamar High School has two players in front of him who also happen to be some of the most prominent players in Rice baseball history. Rice's top ten career home run hitters are as follows:
1. 67, Lance Berkman (1995-97)
2. 59, Bubba Crosby (1996-98)
3. 48, Anthony Rendon (2009-current)
4. 43, Jose Cruz Jr. (1993-95)
5. 42, Eric Arnold (1999-2002)
T 6. 39, Jay Knoblauh, (1985-88)
T 6. 39, Aaron Luna (2006-2008)
8. 37, Damon Thames (1998-99)
9. 33, Jacques Landry (1995-96)
10. 32, Enrique Cruz (2001-03)

Sign Up For "Dollars For Dingers"
Owl fans are encouraged to support Rice Athletics by signing up for the 2011 edition of the Dollars for Dingers program. Signing up on-line at this link is easy and secure... for Dingers is a fun way to support Rice student-athletes. The popular program ties the total number of Owl home runs hit during the season to a financial contribution from our fans. Last year, participants in the Dollars for Dingers program contributed more than $30,000 to the Owl Club Scholarship Fund supporting all of Rice's student-athletes... Rice invites fans to make your pledge today as the Owls try to eclipse last year's home run total of 96. The Development Office will keep track of the count all the way through the College World Series, and let fans know their gift amount at the end of the season. Every pledge of $2 or more qualifies participants for a special souvenir... The Rice baseball team will again be swinging for the fences this year. On behalf of the student-athletes who benefit from your generosity, Rice sends its deepest appreciation and hopes the wind is blowing our way each time the Owls are up to bat!

"At Flex Packs" Now Available
Owl Single game tickets for the 2011 Rice baseball season are now available through the At Bat Flex Packs, the Rice Ticket office announced... The Flex Packs are a convenient and economic way for fans to purchase tickets of their choice, including on-line purchases. The Flex Packs are available in four options; the single, double, triple and home run. Here's what they deliver:
Single - eight tickets for $60
Double - 12 tickets for $80
Triple - 16 tickets for $100
Home Run - 20 tickets for $120
Flex Pack fans will be sent vouchers that can be redeemed for printed tickets at the Rice ticket office or at the Reckling Park ticket window the day of the game. The vouchers may be used all at one game, or spread out over several games. For example, with the Single Pack, a fan and a friend can go to four games, bring a group of eight to one game, or get one ticket to eight different games, etc.... Fans are encouraged to specify the games they would like to attend when they order online or by phone. Otherwise, fans will receive vouchers that can be redeemed during ticket office business hours or at Reckling Park on the day of a game while supplies last... Tickets purchased with the Flex Packs will be in Concourse 2 at Reckling Park, with the exception of games against Texas A&M (April 12) and the University of Houston (March 23 & 29), which will be general admission... For more information, call the Rice Ticket Office at 713-522-OWLS. Link directly to Rice Ticket Page.

Winningest Teams of The 2000's
(Since the beginning of the 2000 season)
Team Yrs. Won Lost Tied Pct.
1. Florida State 11 552 194 1 .740
2. Rice 11 534 185 0 .743
3. Texas 11 529 202 1 .723
4. South Carolina 11 521 217 0 .706
5. Wichita State 11 500 236 0 .679
6. North Carolina 11 497 212 1 .701
7. Cal St. Fullerton 11 488 213 0 .696
8. Coastal Carolina 11 487 200 0 .709
9. Georgia Tech 11 484 201 1 .699
10. LSU 11 481 232 4 .674
11. Clemson 11 481 241 1 .666
12. Miami (Fla.) 11 477 210 3 .693
13. Oral Roberts 11 476 187 0 .716
14. Nebraska 11 455 225 2 .662
15. Tulane 11 454 231 2 .662
16. Arizona State 11 449 186 2 .706
17. East Carolina 11 447 232 2 .658
18. Notre Dame 11 443 224 4 .663
19. Stanford 11 442 237 2 .651
20 Mississippi 11 434 252 1 .632
21. Florida 11 433 256 2 .628
22. TCU 11 424 247 0 .625
23. Southern Miss 11 421 237 2 .639
24. Virginia 11 421 248 1 .629
25. Florida Atlantic 11 420 256 0 .621

18-Straight 30-Win Seasons; Lookin' For 19!
Rice has reached the 30-win plateau for 18th-straight seasons. Only five other schools in the country have longer active streaks of having won at least 30 games: Arizona State (48 years), Miami-Fla. (40 years), Clemson and Cal State Fullerton (both 36 years) and Georgia Tech (28).

Postseason Streak Now 16-Straight; Lookin' For 17!
A year ago the Rice baseball program made its 16th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Baseball Championship, which ranks as the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 38th consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (33) and Cal State Fullerton (19).

Conference Championship Streak Reaches 15-Straight Years
Rice has now won or shared a total of 15-straight conference championships (including either regular season or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference, to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and five Conference USA titles in as many years.

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