May 23, 2011
(All start times listed are CENTRAL TIME)
May 25 (Wed.) 12:30 pm; Rice vs. UAB
Watch it on the web.
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May 26 (Thurs.) 12:30 pm; Rice vs. Memphis
Game televised by Comcast Sports Southwest (There is no webcast during this CSS game.)
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May 27 (Fri.) 12:30 pm; Rice vs. UCF
Watch it on the web.
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May 28 (Sat.) 7 pm; C-USA Championship Game
Game televised by CBS Sports Network (There is no webcast during this CBSSN game.)
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Internet features activate at game time.
Owls No. 1 Seed In C-USA Championship This Week
The Rice baseball team, 38-18 on the year and Conference USA regular season co-champions with a 16-8 league record, is the No. 1 seed of the 2011 C-USA Championship this Wednesday-Saturday (May 25-28). The Championship will be held Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi, and features the top eight teams in a pool play format. The winner of the Championship earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins June 3 at 16 regional sites across the country.
Time For Pool Play
Pool play and summer time are a perfect match! The league's return to a pool play format in the C-USA Championship features a slight variation from the 2010 version. This year there are two four-team groups playing set schedule of games for three days. There is no double-elimination in pool play. The team's with the best record from each pool advances to Saturday's Championship Final... Rice meets eighth-seed UAB (28-26 overall, 9-15 C-USA) on Wednesday at 12:30 pm. The Owls then face five-seed Memphis (29-25, 12-12) on Thursday at 12:30 pm. The Rice-Memphis game (and all the games that day) will be televised by Comcast Sports Southwest. Rice's pool play concludes with a 12:30 pm game against fourth-seed UCF (36-20, 12-12) on Friday... The Championship Final of the 16th annual tournament will be one game on Saturday beginning at 7 pm. The Championship Final will be broadcast live by CBS Sports Network.
Watch Games 1 & 3 On OwlVision All Access
Though there is no webcast during Thursday's Comcast Sports Southwest game, nor Saturday's Championship game on CBS Sports Network, the Wednesday and Friday and games at the tournament are slated for a live on-line video broadcast by OwlVision All Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like broadcast on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). The service has proved to be very popular with fans and alumni living throughout the world. Information about the service and subscription prices are available here. Access the service on game day at the above links.
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 RiceOwls.com. Use the above link to access the Internet audio home page. The Rice broadcasting tag-team this season is primarily David Brady and J.P. Heath, with help from some of our Rice broadcasting friends. Tune-in to the pregame show 30 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The frequency for the proximity broadcast at the C-USA Championship will be announced at a later time.
Live Stats On GameTracker
Live play-by-play text and statistics from every Rice game will be posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview or the baseball schedule page.
National Ranking Update Rice Climbs To 15th In The Polls
Heading into the home stretch of the regular season, the Owls are 15th in the nation according to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and PerfectGame.com. Rice is in the Top 20 of six different polls. Not only has the Blue & Gray won games over powerhouse teams Texas A&M (twice), Southern Miss (twice), Arizona and Stanford, other opponents that weren't ranked when the Owls played them (California, Baylor and UCF) have also spent some time in the polls this season. Here's a closer look at the current polls:
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 cancelled 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 Rice baseball program's all-time record is 1,815 - 1,467 - 9.
Conference Championship Streak Reaches 16-Straight Years
Rice has won or shared a total of 16-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 six Conference USA titles in as many years.
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 908-358 with the Owls (549-125 at home, 274-183 in road games and 85-50 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .717, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .717 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this week's opponents is: 15-6 vs. UAB (9-1 at home, 5-4 road, 1-1 neutral)... 17-5 vs. Memphis (8-2 at home, 7-2 road, 2-1 neutral)... 17-6 vs. UCF (8-4 at home, 7-2 road, 2-0 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, and shared the title in 2011. Rice has won 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.
1,482 Wins A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 908 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,482 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,482-471 in a 30-year career that began in 1981.
Celebrating No. 900
On May 6 the Rice Athletics Department made a special presentation to coach Graham to commemorate his recent 900th victory at the helm of the Owl program. The presentation included a video featuring a host of former Rice baseball players, local figures and sports celebrities sharing their thoughts and congratulations for coach Graham's milestone win. The video is available to view here. Look for the longer version of the two videos.
Apples To Apples
Using coach Graham's first Rice season of 1992 as the starting point, here are the active Division I national leaders for coaching victories heading into the 2011 season.
1. Mike Martin, Florida State - 961
2. Gene Stephenson, Wichita State - 932
3. Wayne Graham, Rice - 870
4. Jim Morris, Miami (Fla.) - 868
5. Ray Tanner, South Carolina - 853
6. Augie Garrido, Texas - 847
19-Straight 30-Win Seasons
Rice has reached the 30-win plateau for the 19th-straight season. Only five other schools in the country have longer active streaks of having won at least 30 games: Arizona State (now 49 years), Miami-Fla. (41 years), Clemson and Cal State Fullerton (both 37 years), and Georgia Tech (29). All have reached the 30-win plateau again this season.
Seven For The Show
Seven former Rice players have either played in major league games or been on MLB rosters this season. The former Owls who have been in The Show this year are Lance Berkman (Cardinals), Tim Byrdak (Mets), Philip Humber (White Sox), Paul Janish (Reds), Jeff Niemann (Rays), Lance Pendleton (Yankees) and Josh Rodriguez (Pirates). David Aardsma began the season on the Mariners' disabled list.
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitcher for the opening game of the C-USA Tournament vs. UAB as freshman right-hander Austin Kubitza (6-3, 1.85). The remaining Rice starters will be announced by coach Graham at a later time.
- Freshman Austin Kubitza has been riding a wave of honors the last week. On Sunday (May 22) he was named the C-USA Pitcher of the Week for a second time. On Tuesday (May 24) he was voted the C-USA Freshman of the Year by the coaches, SID and media covering the conference. Kubitza caught the coaches' attention with solid outings in the fall training program, worked his way into a starting assignment for the opening weekend of the season against nationally-ranked Stanford, and was so impressive that he was soon promoted to the Friday night starting spot. The rookie from Colleyville, Tex., has been the Owls' Friday night pitcher for three months. He leads the staff with a 1.85 ERA and he has held all opposing hitters to a composite .240 batting average. Not only does Kubitza average just 2.2 walks per 9.0 innings, his strikeouts-to-walks ratio is a steady 4.3-to-1... The former Heritage High School star pitched a brilliant game against nationally-ranked Texas A&M on Mar. 5, firing a complete game five-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory... In an April 8 game at East Carolina, Kubitza fanned a career-high 11 in just 5.2 innings and allowed only one run (which was unearned). In his outing at Houston he did not walk a batter in 7.2 frames... Last week at Southern Miss he threw 8.1 scoreless frames in a televised game and did not walk a batter until the ninth inning... Kubitza's record is 6-3, but a closer look shows he has not received a lot of offensive nor bullpen support from his teammates in his outings. In Kubitza's 13 starts the Owls have averaged an austere 4.8 runs per game and hit 18 points lower than when another Owl is pitching. Likewise, the Owl relievers who have pitched after him have been the ones to pick up wins after Kubitza had left the game four different times.
Previous Outing: Rice Takes Two-of-Three From Southern Miss On The Road
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss defeated the Rice baseball team 7-3 in the finale of the Conference USA weekend series Saturday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss. The same teams officially share the league's regular season title with identical 16-8 C-USA records, but the Owls are the No. 1 seed of the upcoming Championship Tournament beginning next week in Pearl, Miss... Rice quickly opened the scoring in the top of the first inning. Anthony Rendon doubled to the left field corner and scored on a single to right by Michael Ratterree... After two-out hits by Rendon and Ratterree in the top of the third, junior catcher Craig Manuel lined a base hit into right-center to plate Rendon and double the margin to 2-0. Rendon scored his 53rd run of the season in the team's 56th game... Southern Miss fought back for a run in the fourth before a big four-run fifth. In the fourth, Adam Doleac singled with one out and scored from first on Isaac Rodriguez' double to left to make it 2-1... It was a similar sequence to tie the game in the fifth. Kameron Brunty singled and scored on Tyler Koelling's single to left. USM then took the lead after two more singles by B.A. Vollmuth and Marc Bourgeois made it 3-2. Rodriguez walked and a bases-loaded double by Mark Ellis scored two to stretch the lead to 5-2... USM tallied two more in the sixth on one hit to make it 7-2. The big blow was a two-run triple to right by Ashley Graeter after a hit batsman and a walk... Rice opportunistically scored its final run in the seventh. Keenan Cook reached on a two-base error and came home on a base hit by J.T. Chargois that made it 7-3. The Owls close out the regular season with a 38-18 overall record. Southern Miss is 38-15 on the year.
Kubitza Named C-USA Pitcher of the Week
IRVING, Tex. - For the second time this season Rice freshman Austin Kubitza has been named the Conference USA Pitcher of the Week, the league office announced Sunday (May 22) from its headquarters in Irving, Tex. East Carolina's Jack Reinheimer was named the C-USA Hitter of the Week... In his only appearance of the week (May 19), Kubitza handcuffed a tenth-ranked Southern Miss squad that was leading the conference in hitting and runs-scored to no runs on five hits over 8.1 innings in a road victory. The right-hander from Colleyville, Tex., struck out nine and did not walk a batter until there was one out in the ninth inning... Kubitza improved his record to 6-3 on the year while earning his second C-USA Pitcher of the Week honor this season. He was also named Pitcher of the Week on March 7 after throwing a 1-0 shutout over then-No. 9 Texas A&M. Four Owls have earned the C-USA Pitcher/Hitter of the Week honor a total of six times this season. His Rice teammates who have won the weekly award are second baseman Michael Ratterree (May 9 and April 18) and pitchers John Simms (April 18) and Matthew Reckling (Feb. 21) on the respective dates... ECU's Jack Reinheimer batted a team-best .583 (7-for-12) last week with a .667 on-base percentage in four games for the Pirates.
Toughest Losses of the Season
The Owls have lost two key starters, junior outfielder Jeremy Rathjen and sophomore pitcher/outfielder Chase McDowell, for the remainder of the season due to injury.
Tony Cingrani On Watch List For College Baseball's Stopper of the Year Award
Senior Tony Cingrani was one of 45 players named to the midseason watch list for the seventh annual Stopper of the Year Award. The postseason honor is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball in conjunction with the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA)... Cingrani, who notched his team-leading tenth save in Rice's dramatic4-0 victory over Southern Miss Thursday night (May 19), is having a sensational senior season for the Owls. The left-hander from New Lennox, Ill., is 3-2 with a 1.92 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 51.2 innings of work. Originally a starter for the Blue & Gray, he unselfishly moved to the bullpen in March and has since been one of the top relievers in Conference USA. Cingrani has held opposing hitters to an austere .225 batting average and frustrated the opposition with pinpoint control. Since moving to the Owl bullpen full-time, the former Lincoln-Way Central High School product has walked only eight batters in 43.2 innings and maintained a 1.03 ERA... At the conclusion of the 2011 college regular season, the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as finalists for the Stopper of the Year Award and announced on Wednesday, June 1, prior to start of NCAA regional tournament competition. The NCBWA's All-America Committee then will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced on the opening day of the College World Series on June 18.
Rice 14th In Total Home Attendance (May 23)
Through 32 home games Rice has drawn more than 112,000 fans to Reckling Park (through May 23). The Owls are 14th in the nation in total home attendance. Here are the early national attendance leaders (by home total) through that date.
1. LSU 400,295
2. Ole Miss 261,006
3. South Carolina 258,651
4. Arkansas 235,694
5. Texas 222,270
6. Mississippi State 189,218
7. Florida State 152,096
8. TCU 139,169
9. Clemson 137,837
10. Florida 134,582
11. Texas A&M 133,363
12. Alabama 128,854
13. Hawaii 116,222
14. Rice 112,544
Rice Also 14th In Average Home Attendance (May 23)
Rice baseball is averaging a steady 3,517 fans for 32 home games. That's also the 14th highest total in the country as of May 23.
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 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)
Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion Dynamo out there, Rice is 17-6 in its all-white uniforms, 8-4 in the pinstripes, 8-6 in the all-gray, 3-2 in blue jerseys and gray pants, and 2-0 in blue jerseys with white pants.
Did You Know?
At 38-18 Rice's record through 56 games is two games better than this same point one year ago. In 2010 the 36-20 Owls ended up putting together another dynamic 40-win season on the way to a conference championship and NCAA Regional appearance. A closer look at the team's 18 losses this season is in order. In addition to playing 12 games against nationally-ranked teams Stanford, Arizona, Texas A&M, California, Southern Miss and Texas State, the Owls have 4 one-run losses and 5 two-run losses. Also note that five of the team's losses have been in extra innings.
Here's Who's Hot
Not only is sophomore first baseman J.T. Chargois is 12-for-20 (.600) in his last five games, he has a team-high eight RBI and is tied for second with five runs scored. Chargois has also drawn three walks for a .652 on-base percentage... Sophomore second baseman Michael Ratterree has been extremely productive at the plate over the last month and last few games. Ratterree is 11-for-23 (.478) with a double and a home run for a .652 slugging percentage. He also has six RBI and five runs scored over the last five games... Freshman leadoff batter Keenan Cook is now 9-for-his-last-23 (.409) with a pair of walks. He has maintained a .480 on-base percentage during this stretch and has scored six times in the last five games... Outfielder Ryan Lewis is now 5-for-16 (.313) over the last week. He's drawn two walks and a hit by a pitch twice for a .450 on-base percentage.
Anthony Rendon is now sixth on Rice's all-time list for career RBI with (190), and now needs 10 more to tie Owl great Diego Seastrunk (2007-2010) for fifth place. The Houston native is also ninth on the school's career runs scored list with 196 and needs just two more to tie the great Chris Kolkhorst eighth place.
Walk This Way
Opposing teams have been very careful with Rendon at the plate, issuing him an eye-opening 76 walks for a .526 on-base percentage. Rendon's 76 free passes in the highest total in the nation. He has been intentionally walked a total of 22 times... In the series opener against Memphis on May 13, the team drew a season-high 11 walks on the way to a 10-6 win.
Now Walk This Way
Anthony Rendon has drawn a lot of walks, but there's more than one way to "walk" on a college campus. Rice Baseball and the Athletics Department would like to acknowledge some special seniors who made a walk of a different kind on May 14. Four seniors in the baseball program, Abe Gonzales (1B), Doug Simmons, Matt Evers and Samuel Wu, (student athletic trainer/equipment manager) participated in the University's graduation ceremony that morning. The 2011 commencement ceremony was the 98th in school history.
The K Train
The Owl pitchers had 18 strikeouts in the April 8 win at East Carolina, the most by the Rice staff since striking out 19 at Louisiana Tech in 2005. Rice also had a masterful 21 strikeouts in a single game that year (vs. Central Missouri State on Opening Day).
We Remember 0-3 In `05
The Owls lost their C-USA opening series of the season to UCF (March 27), two games to one. Rice did the same to Memphis last season, but went on to win 16 of its next 21 league games to claim the C-USA regular season title. In 2005 not only did Rice lose its Western Athletic Conference opener at San Jose State, the Owls were swept by the Spartans to start league play that season. The Blue & Gray was able to rebound from its 0-3 start and win the 2005 WAC title. Rice baseball is 135-36 in the 171 league games (WAC & C-USA) since the San Jose State series in 2005.
Last Time To Rally For A Win In The Bottom of the Ninth?
Rice's ninth-inning rally for a home win over Memphis on Sunday (May 15) was certainly dramatic. It was also the Owls' first time to pull out a come-from-behind victory in the bottom of the ninth in two years. In March of 2009, Rice trailed Washington State 1-0 heading to the bottom of the ninth and rallied for a 2-1 victory. In that game Jeremy Rathjen was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and forced-in Jimmy Comerota with the winning run. Before Sunday, the previous time where the Owls won a game in which they trailed heading into the ninth was last season. A year ago in California the Owls trailed San Diego 6-5 to start the top of the ninth, and proceeded to score four runs for a 9-6 lead. Rice eventually won that game 9-8 after surviving a USD rally in the bottom of the ninth.
For The Record
The 18 runners the Owls left on base in the Apr. 5 game vs. Louisiana tied for the most in a single game in school history. Rice left 18 men on base one other time, 58 years ago in a home game against the University of Texas (March 31, 1953). A little more recently, but still not very recently per se, the Blue & Gray left 17 men on base in a home non-conference game against Tulane in 1996. Rice's previous 2011 season-high for runners left on base was 12, which the Owls did three times (vs. Arizona, UC Santa Barbara and the second meeting with Houston). During the 2000 season, visiting McNeese State left 18 men on base in a home game the Owls went on to win 4-1.
The Long & Short of It
The Owls played one of the longest games of the college baseball season this year with a 15-inning affair on March 12 against California at AT&T Park, home of the world champion San Francisco Giants. The extra-inning marathon was the Owls' longest game by innings dating back to Wayne Graham's first Rice season in 1992. It was also the program's longest game by time (four hours, 33 minutes) dating back to 1996. The note within in the note is that the Owls have also already had the shortest game by time in the Wayne Graham era: a one-hour, 45-minute (1:45) game against Texas A&M on March 5 that beat a 1:49 game in 1997 by four minutes.
If you need any insight into Pac-10 baseball just ask Rice. The Owls have already played three games against Stanford and USC, two at Arizona and one on the road against Cal. Rice owns a winning 5-4 ledger against the rugged Pac-10 conference.
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. The junior standout from nearby Lamar High School is third on the career home run list and 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. 51, 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)
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
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).