Baseball

Owls Open C-USA Action Friday Night At Memphis

March 22, 2012

Mar. 23 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; Rice at Memphis
Watch it on the web
(activates at game time)

Mar. 24 (Sat.) 2 pm; Rice at Memphis
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(activates at game time)

Mar. 25 (Sun.) 12:30 pm; Rice at Memphis (note new start time!)
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(activates at game time)

All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.

Rice Starts Conference USA League Play Friday At Memphis
The No. 7 ranked Rice baseball team, 16-7 on the season, opens Conference USA action with a three-game weekend series on the road at league rival Memphis beginning on Friday (Mar. 23). Game times with the Tigers (9-11) are set for 6:30 pm Friday, 2 pm Saturday, and 12:30 pm Sunday. All starts listed are Central Time.

News Flash! Sunday Start Time At Memphis Now 12:30 pm
Be sure to note there is a new start time for the finale of the Rice-Memphis series on Sunday (Mar. 25). The Owls and Tigers have moved Sunday's first pitch up to a new 12:30 pm start time.

Watch The Games On OwlVision All Access
All Conference USA league games 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 been growing in popularity the last few years. 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 & At The Park
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 page. 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 this weekend in Memphis 100.3 FM.

Live Stats On GameTracker
Live play-by-play text and statistics from every 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 No. 7
Rice was ranked in the Top 10 of a host of different polls to start the 2012 campaign. Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:

PollThis WeekLast Week
USA Today/ESPN75
NCBWA97
Baseball America98
Collegiate Baseball Magazine107
PerfectGame.com127

Rice University Centennial; 96th Season On The Baseball Field
Rice University is celebrating its centennial in 2012. Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2012 season is, however, only the Owls' 96th season playing on the diamond. The school cancelled its baseball 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 1,835 - 1,477 - 9.

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and soon-to-be 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 21st season at Rice. The 2012 campaign marks his 32nd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 928-368 with the Owls (562-130 at home, 276-186 in road games and 90-52 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .716, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .716 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. Memphis is 18-5 (8-2 home, 7-2 away, 3-1 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2011, making 17-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11. 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 (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09 and `11... 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; 12th year), Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; seventh year), and Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; first year)... On game days Hallmark coaches at third base while Van Hook coaches at first base.

1,502 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 928 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,502 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,502-480 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.

Wayne Graham To Be Inducted Into College Baseball Hall of Fame
HOUSTON - Only a few hours before the nationally-ranked Rice baseball team was to take the field against the University of Texas in Friday's final game of the College Classic Tournament (March 2), Owl head coach Wayne Graham was announced as one of seven inductees into College Baseball Hall of Fame later this summer... Coach Graham is part of an impressive class of inductees who will officially join the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Tex., on June 29-30. The 2012 inductees include Lou Brock, a Major League Hall of Famer who was a collegiate star at Southern University in 1958-60; Ed Cheff, who won 16 NAIA national championships coaching at Lewis Clark State from 1977-2010; Nomar Garciaparra, a three-time All-America selection at Georgia Tech who went on to make six all-star games during a 14-year major league career; Tim Jorgensen, a two-time Division III National Player of the Year and All-American at Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Brad Wilkerson, a three-time All-America selection and 1998 National Player of the Year from the University of Florida; and the late Frank Sancet, who coached at Arizona for 23 seasons where he led the Wildcats to the College World Series ten times... The Owls' head coach is already a member of three other Halls of Fame. Currently in his 21st year at the helm of the Rice program, and his 32nd as a collegiate head coach, Graham has already been inducted into the Junior College Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Col. (1995), the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in Fort Worth (2003) and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco (2005)... At Rice, Graham has led the Blue & Gray to an NCAA Regional for each of the last 17 years. Not only has the baseball program won at least 40 games in each of the last 17 seasons, Rice has won or shared 16-consecutive conference championships (including regular season and/or conference tournament titles). Rice has maintained the nation's best composite Division I baseball win-percentage (.742) since 1999, a comprehensive 13-year span that marks the first year the NCAA adopted its current 64-team/Super Regional format for the NCAA Tournament... "It's a unique event and I appreciate the honor very much," said coach Graham. "At a time like this you think about who helped get you there. The players who have performed well to allow you to have some success, but also my wife and family who have had to make a lot of sacrifices to make it possible for this to happen. I'm very grateful for everyone who has been involved... "It's a great honor to be associated with the other members of this Hall of Fame class," coach Graham added. "They are great baseball-people with a love and talent for the game."... Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said Graham's induction is well-deserved... "Wayne Graham's accomplishments throughout his career are obviously worthy of a place in the College Baseball Hall of Fame," Greenspan said. "His accomplishments at San Jacinto were legendary on their own merits and in his 21 seasons at Rice, he has created an exemplary program that has been dominant on the field and in the classroom." A National Board Member of the College Baseball Foundation, Greenspan noted that Graham's legacy continues to grow. "The 2012 Rice Owls are again among the best teams in the nation, adding yet another chapter to an amazing career."... Graham has long-been an example of coaching excellence, but he's far from finished.

Probable Rice Pitchers
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitching rotation for the Memphis series as the right-handed trio of senior Matthew Reckling (3-0, 1.32), freshman Jordan Stephens (2-1, 1.38), and junior Andrew Benak (4-0, 0.69), respectively.

  • Last season veteran Matthew Reckling started more games (16) than any other member of the Owls' pitching staff. Not only did he lead the team in opponent's batting average (.214), he was among the C-USA leaders in that category. The 6-foot-4 right-hander was second on the Owls in strikeouts (96) and in innings (78.1), and third in ERA (3.10). Reckling averaged 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings. He was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 2011 June draft, but returned to Rice for his senior season. The Owls are glad he did because he has been lights-out in 2012. This season Reckling did not allow any runs through his first 15.1 innings of work. He's now struck out 43 in 34.0 innings and held opposing batters to a composite .140 average. Reckling's next start would be his 26th as an Owl. His all-time Rice record in 53 career appearances is 10-4, and he is the career strikeouts leader among active players with 186.
  • True freshman Jordan Stephens has been making a name for himself in his debut season of Division I baseball. The Alvin, Tex., native is 2-1 with a 1.38 ERA and he has held opposing hitters to a .188 average. Stephens was sensational in firing 6.2 scoreless innings and earning a win at No. 2 Stanford (March 11). In his start before that (March 4) he dominated the Tennessee Volunteers with 7.0 shutout innings to be named the Most Outstanding Player of the Houston College Classic Tournament held at Minute Maid Park. Stephens had pitched 18.0 consecutive scoreless innings before being charged with a run in 0.2 innings in Wednesday's loss to Lamar.
  • Andrew Benak has looked sound and solid in each of his outings this season. The junior from Houston was simply sensational in his first appearance on Feb. 22 vs. New Mexico State. In that game, his first start of 2012 and only the fifth start of his collegiate career, Benak dominated the NMSU hitters with 10 strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. The 6-foot-5 right-hander scattered just two singles and did not walk a batter on the way to his first win of the season. He struck out every batter in the lineup at least once and had one stretch of striking out nine of 14. A week later against crosstown rival Houston (Feb. 28) he allowed an earned run on three hits over 5.0 innings while striking out four. On March 6 against Texas State he struck out 10 in 6.0 innings while allowing just one run on four hits and two walks. Against nationally-ranked Arizona (Mar. 13), Benak held kept the explosive Wildcats off the scoreboard for 5.2 frames to move to 3-0. In his most recent outing against UTSA on Tuesday (Mar. 20), he fired a pre-determined 3.0 innings, held the Roadrunners scoreless and notched three strikeouts. In addition to four wins in five starts and a 0.69 ERA, he's held all opposing hitters to a composite .211 batting average... Benak is a redshirt junior who has been sidelined for most of the past four years. It's been a long time in coming but now that he's finally healthy for the first time since a standout prep career at Langham Creek H.S., Benak has quickly made up for lost time. His outings in the 2011 fall training program were the first indication that a healthy Benak could prove to be a different pitcher that the one Rice (and opponents) had seen before. The lesson in Benak's comeback story is that Rice baseball (the coaches and his teammates) never gave up on Andrew Benak, and perhaps of equal importance is that Andrew Benak never gave up on Andrew Benak.
  • Memphis listed its probable starters as sophomore left-hander Sam Moll (1-2, 3.81), junior right-hander Dan Langfield (4-1, 2.08) and senior right-hander Chase Joiner (1-2, 3.97), respectively.

Previous Outing: Lamar Holds-Off Rice Rally, 5-4
HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team rallied for four runs over a span of four-straight innings, but Lamar regained the lead in the seventh and hung on for a 5-4 win over the Owls Wednesday night at Reckling Park in Houston... Lamar built a 4-0 advantage with two two-run innings early in the contest. Singles in the second inning by Zach Luevanos and Wayne Stanley scored Brad Picha and Garret Autrey. The Cardinals added two more in the third after a pair of walks and Picha's two-out double to left... Rice began to chip away at the deficit. Ford Stainback led off the bottom of the third with a double to left-center and he scored on a two-out RBI single by Miachael Fuda. Craig Manuel drew a walk to start the fourth and Michael Ratterree`s double to right put the men on second and third. Manuel scored on Stainback's grounder to the right side that cut the lead in half, 4-2... The Blue & Gray took advantage of a Cardinal error for a run in the fifth. Fuda singled, moved to second on a walk and took third on a fielder's choice. A Lamar error on the play, however, allowed Fuda an extra 90 feet to home plate and make it 4-3. Rice tied the game with its fourth-straight single-run scored in the sixth. Ratterree bunted for a base hit, stole second and scored when Ryan Lewis came off the bench and delivered a base hit through the right side that tied the score at 4-4... Lamar answered with a run in the top of the seventh to back on top. Darian Johnson led off with a double to right and scored on Autrey's single to left-center... The Owls made a threat to go back in front in the eighth. Base hits by Ratterree and Christian Stringer put two men on with two-away, but the Cardinals worked out of the jam. Lamar held-off Rice's final at bats in the ninth for the 5-4 final... "Tonight's game was determined by our mental mistakes," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "We made mistakes but the good news it's something we can correct, there's no doubt in my mind about that. It's imperative that we correct mistakes, particularly with three conference road games coming up."... Rice dropped to 16-7 on the season. Lamar improved to 8-12 overall... Fuda and Ratterree both collected three hits on the night in a 10-hit attack. By design, a total of six Rice pitchers saw work in the game in advance of the team's upcoming Conference USA league opener.

Rice's Televised Games In 2012
HOUSTON - Rice Athletics has announced its preliminary lineup of Owl baseball games that will be televised in the upcoming 2012 season. There are 11 Rice games tabbed for a television broadcast by a host of national networks. The number of televised games could still increase during the course of the year, including games in the C-USA Championship where the May 27 Final is set for a broadcast on CBS College Sports... Rice's televised games begin in March. All three Rice games from the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park were broadcast by either ESPN 3 (vs. Texas Tech and Tennessee) and/or The Longhorn Network (vs. Texas). Eight regular season home games from Reckling Park will be televised beginning on March 13. Note there will be a new start time on four of the home games to accommodate the broadcast of contests with Arizona (Mar. 13), Texas State (April 10), and Stephen F. Austin (May 8) - all of which are now 6 pm starts... Rice's May 5 game vs. crosstown rival Houston now begins at 1:30 pm. All three C-USA league games against UH in May will be televised. Rice baseball returns to play on familiar networks with games on CSS Sports, Fox Sports Net, and Fox College Sports. The full 2012 TV lineup for Rice baseball is listed below.

Rice's 2012 Games Selected For Television Broadcast
March 2 vs. Texas - 7 pm Longhorn Network
March 3 vs. Texas Tech - 7 pm ESPN 3
March 4 vs. Tennessee - 6 pm ESPN 3
March 13 vs. Arizona - 6 pm* CSS Sports
March 14 vs. Arizona - 6:30 pm CSS Sports
April 1 vs. Southern Miss - 1 pm FOX Sports Net
April 10 vs. Texas State - 6 pm* CSS Sports
May 4 vs. Houston - 6:30 pm FOX College Sports
May 5 vs. Houston - 1:30 pm FOX Sports Net
May 6 vs. Houston - 1 pm CSS Sports
May 8 vs. Stephen F. Austin - 6 pm* CSS Sports
(May 27 C-USA Championship - 1 pm) CBS College Sports
* - denotes a new starting time

Get a printable Rice Baseball Schedule here Get Acrobat Reader

The C-USA Favorites
IRVING, Tex. - With four preseason all-conference players the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll, the C-USA office announced on Jan. 26... Rice returns 22 experienced lettermen to the roster in 2012, including eight returning starters in the field and a host of veteran pitchers. The Owls have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring. The Owls were recently ranked sixth in Baseball America's preseason poll and seventh by Collegiate Baseball.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (8)

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

2012 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS
(as selected by C-USA's head coaches)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
D.J. Hicks, UCF (Junior, Designated Hitter/Pitcher)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Austin Kubitza, Rice (Sophomore, Right-hander)

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
P Kevin Brandt Sr. East Carolina
P Austin Kubitza So. Rice
P Dillon Napoleon Sr. UAB
RP Tyler Duffey Jr. Rice
C Jeremy Schaffer Sr. Tulane
C Zach Wright Sr. East Carolina
IF Chase Jensen Jr. Houston
IF Darnell Sweeney Jr. UCF
IF Corey Thompson Sr. East Carolina
IF Jacob Wilson Sr. Memphis
OF Kameron Brunty Sr. Southern Miss
OF Jeremy Rathjen Jr. Rice
OF Michael Ratterree Jr. Rice

OF Ronnie Richardson Jr. UCF
DH/UT D.J. Hicks Jr. UCF

Nation's Top Win Percentage From 1999 To 2011
Using the 1999 season as the starting point (the year the NCAA expanded the postseason tournament field to 64 teams with the current Super Regional format), Rice baseball has maintained the nation's top win percentage. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2011: (This list does not include any 2012 results.)
Team, Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
Rice, 635-221-0 (.742)
Florida State, 651-227-1 (.741)
Oral Roberts, 561-224-0 (.715)
Texas, 614-247-1 (.713)
Coastal Carolina, 573-234-0 (.710)
North Carolina, 589-246-1 (.705)
Cal State Fullerton, 579-244-0 (.704)
Arizona State, 531-224-1 (.703)
South Carolina, 612-261-0 (.701)
Miami, 565-246-3 (.696)
Wichita State, 598-276-0 (.684)
Georgia Tech, 551-255-1 (.683)
LSU, 558-276-5 (.668)
Clemson, 566-288-1 (.663)
Nebraska, 527-268-2 (.662)
Tulane, 532-275-2 (.659)
Stanford, 527-274-2 (.658)
East Carolina, 519-271-0 (.657)
Notre Dame, 511-271-5 (.652)
Coll. of Charleston, 487-279-0 (.636)
Florida, 517-300-2 (.632)
TCU, 498-290-0 (.632)
Southern Miss, 503-296-0 (.630)
Alabama, 508-300-0 (.629)
Virginia, 498-294-2 (.628)

Postseason Streak At 17-Straight, Looking For 18
The Rice baseball program has made 17-consecutive appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship, which ranks as the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 39 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (34) and Cal State Fullerton (20). Rice's 17-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is tied for the seventh-longest national postseason streak in Division I history (with LSU, 1989-2005).

Conference Championship Streak At 16-Straight, Looking For 17
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. In 2011 the Blue & Gray tied for the C-USA regular season co-championship (with Southern Miss) before winning the tournament title in late May.

17-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice has clinched 17th-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 42 wins in 16 of the last 17 years.

19-Straight 30-Win Seasons
Rice has reached the 30-win plateau for 19th-straight seasons. 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).

Welcome Back Rice Baseball Alumni
Over 100 Rice baseball lettermen, from as far back as the 1940s to the recent College World Series teams, were on hand Feb. 4 at Reckling Park as the Rice Owls baseball program celebrated its rich heritage with its biennial Alumni Weekend... A host of former players, many still playing professionally and some who were in the major leagues in 2011 like Joe Savery and Lance Pendleton, came home to Reckling Park to renew friendships and see old teammates. There may have been a little rani, but it was a fun day for all.
Check out the video of the Baseball Alumni Fan Fest here

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 8-2 in its all-white uniforms, 4-2 in the pinstripes, 1-0 in blue tops with white pants, 3-1 in all-gray and 0-2 in blue tops with gray pants.

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