Baseball Hosts Gonzaga In Four-Game Series

March 8, 2018

E-mail baseball SID John Sullivan
E-mail baseball promotions & game-music director Ari Bard

Visit These Links
LISTEN online (pregame show 15 min. before start)
GAME PROMOTIONS (See the full lineup of activities this weekend!)

PDF of Rice's pregame release

March 9 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; Gonzaga at Rice
(activates at game time)

March 10 (Sat.) 2 pm; Gonzaga at Rice (Game 1 of DH)
(activates at game time)

March 10 (Sat.) 45 min. after first game; Gonzaga at Rice
(activates at game time)

March 11 (Sun.) 1 pm; Gonzaga at Rice (Kids Day! & Trading Card Give-away!)
(activates at game time)

Rice Baseball Opens Six-Game Homestand; Owls To Host WCC Power Gonzaga Starting Friday
After a pair of road games spanning some 250 miles across the state of Texas on Interstate-10, the Rice baseball team (6-7 overall) returns to Reckling Park to begin a six-game homestand starting on Friday (March 9). The Owls host WCC power Gonzaga for four games to start one of the longest homestands of the season. The home action continues into next week as the Blue & Gray host nationally ranked TCU and Ivy League foe Columbia in midweek games on March 13-14, respectively.

Watch Home Games Online Via CUSAtv
Home games at Reckling Park are slated for a live online video broadcast via CUSAtv. The broadcast is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like production on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). Games that have been selected for TV broadcasts can alter the online availability.

Play-By-Play Audio On The Web
Every Rice baseball game is scheduled for a live audio broadcast on the Internet at Tune-in to the broadcast's pregame show 15 minutes before first pitch. J.P. Heath returns to the booth for his tenth season as the voice of the Owls. Newcomer Matt Pedersen is also scheduled to broadcast a host of early-season baseball games while J.P. Heath takes the call for the Rice Women's Basketball team's postseason run.

Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceBaseball while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceAthletics. Twitter is perhaps the fastest way to get weather-related changes to the schedule/updated start times.

Live Stats Links Online at
Links to live play-by-play text and statistics from every game, home and away, are posted on Look for the links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, and/or the baseball schedule page.

National Postseason Streak At 23-Straight
Rice baseball's 23-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is now the third-longest active streak in the nation. Three of the country's top four streaks of making the NCAA Tournament are all of the active variety. In 2017 Florida State made the field for the 40th-consecutive year, while Cal State Fullerton made it in for the 26th-straight year.

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is beginning his 27th season at Rice. The 2018 campaign marks his 38th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,153-504 with the Owls (679-188 at home, 364-242 on the road and 110-74 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .696, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .696 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 112 games in a single year... Graham is 0-0 vs. Gonzaga... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2017, making 23-straight seasons for Rice to earn a NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17. 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, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11, `13, `14 and `17... 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, `10 and `11... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series, all 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 head coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches John Pope (Rice, 1990, Jones College; second year), Paul Janish (Rice, 2004; first year), and Jordan Kopycinski (Texas State, 2010; first year).

1,728 Collegiate Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,153 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,728 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,728-617 in a coaching career that began in 1981. (He has 37 years completed, he's now in his 38th of coaching college age players).

Possible Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham has announced Rice's four-man starting pitching rotation for the Gonzaga series as Soph. RHP Matt Canterino (1-1, 1.86), Jr. RHP Kendal Jefferies (0-0, 2.00), Jr. LHP Evan Kravetz (0-0, 11.57) and Soph. RHP Roel Garcia (1-0, 1.80), respectively.

Last Time Out: Proctor Shines Wednesday Night In Homecoming
BEAUMONT - Beaumont native Ford Proctor tallied a career-high four hits while tying his career-high with four RBI to help pace the visiting Rice baseball team to a 6-2 road victory over longtime state foe Lamar Wednesday night in Beaumont, Texas... Proctor was the catalyst for runs in two of the Owls' three scoring innings. With two away and runners on second and third base in the top of the third, the former Bishop Kelly H.S. star lined a base hit into right-center field to drive both Owls home. Proctor then scored on back-to-back singles by Chace Sarchet and Justin Collins to give Rice a 3-0 lead... With Owls on first and second in the top of the seventh, a textbook sacrifice bunt by Braden Comeaux advanced the runners into scoring position. Proctor followed with a base hit up the middle for his third hit of the game and his third and fourth RBI. With his fourth base hit in the top of the ninth he raised his season batting average to a team best .467 (21-of-45)... The Blue & Gray still needed a good effort on the mound and sophomore Roel Garcia was sound and solid in his first career start and just his second appearance of the young season. The right-hander from Pasadena, Texas, posted a career-high five strikeouts in working a career-long 5.0 innings. He allowed just one run and one walk to earn his first collegiate win. Evan Kravetz, Blair Lewis and Kendall Jefferies all contributed with quality work out of the Owl bullpen. The Cardinals finished with two runs on a total of five hits... Rice improved to 6-7 overall. Lamar is now 4-10 on the season.

Career Climber
Heading into the Gonzaga series senior Ryan Chandler holds ninth place on Rice's all-time list for official career at bats with 780. The senior from Houston also started his 198th career game Wednesday night in Beaumont (and each start has been in centerfield). He needs 12 more starts to tie Mark Machalec (1981-1984) for tenth all-time at Rice.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2018 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
3-0 in all-white
1-2 in all pinstripes
1-2 in all-gray
1-2 in blue Rice jersey with pinstripe pants
0-1 in blue Rice jersey with gray pants

Preseason Eyes On Canterino For National Honors
DALLAS -- Rice's Matt Canterino has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' (NCBWA) 2018 Preseason All-America Third Team, the organization announced on February 5... Canterino's sensational debut season of Division I baseball included selection to the C-USA All-Tournament and All-Freshmen teams. As a rookie right-hander in 2017, the Southlake, Texas, native finished 12th in the nation with 10.4 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (minimum 96.0 inn.) and led the league with the fewest hits allowed per 9.0 innings (6.28). During one stretch of games Canterino posted double-digit strikeouts in three consecutive starts, becoming the first Owl to accomplish that feat since eventual major leaguer Jeff Niemann in 2003.

Preseason C-USA Accolades
IRVING, Texas - The Owl trio of Matt Canterino, Dominic DiCaprio and Ford Proctor were all tabbed for preseason honors in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll, the C-USA office announced on Jan. 24... After sensational individual seasons in 2017, the Owls' veteran standouts have the full attention of the 12 C-USA head coaches. Three players are the most selections from one team, with Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss also placing a trio on the league's 14-player preseason squad. As a team, the C-USA coaches collectively picked Rice to finish second in the 2018 regular season race behind defending regular season champ Southern Miss. The Owls defeated the Golden Eagles for the 2017 C-USA tournament crown to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

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

P - Matt Canterino, So., Rice
P - Nick MacDonald, So., FIU
P - Jake Miednik, Sr., Florida Atlantic
RP - Nick Sandlin, Jr., Southern Miss
C - Dominic DiCaprio, Jr., Rice
IF - Bryan Arias, Jr., UTSA
IF - Tyler Frank, Jr., Florida Atlantic
IF - Ford Proctor, Jr., Rice
IF - Vinny Pasquantino, So., Old Dominion
OF - Kyle Battle, So., Old Dominion
OF - Mason Irby, Sr., Southern Miss
OF - David Miranda, Sr., Florida Atlantic
OF - Matt Wallner, So., Southern Miss
DH/UT - Aaron Aucker, Sr., Middle Tennessee

Matt Wallner, Southern Miss (Sophomore, OF/P)

Nick Sandlin, Southern Miss (Junior, RHP)

1. Southern Miss (11)
2. Rice (1)
3. Florida Atlantic
4. Old Dominion
5. FIU
6. Charlotte
7. Louisiana Tech
9. Middle Tennessee
10. Marshall
11. UAB
12. WKU
(first place votes in parentheses)...

DiCaprio & Proctor Named To Bragan Slugger Award Watch List
Both Ford Proctor and Dominic DiCaprio have been named to the initial watch list for the 2018 Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award... From its headquarters in the DFW Metroplex, the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation has combined a passion for baseball and providing youngsters with the incentive and opportunity to pursue a college education for more than 25 years. Starting in 2017, one position player from a Division I baseball school in Texas will be presented with the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award -- based on performance at the plate, academics and personal integrity. The winner of the award will be announced in June and honored at a gala in the fall... DiCaprio, now a junior, was one of four finalists for the same award a year ago. The Coral Springs, Fla., native started 63 of the team's 64 games, including 58 times behind the plate. DiCaprio led the team in batting average (.366) and on-base percentage (.438), and was second on the squad in hits (87) and RBI (49). He helped carry the team in the second half of last season, hitting .385 over the final 32 games... Proctor was a fixture in the lineup last season, starting all 64 games at shortstop and playing all 553.2 innings at shortstop. He led the Owls in runs scored (58) and walks (39) and was second on the team with 19 doubles. The standout from Beaumont collected two or more hits in a game 17 times, including a career-high tying three hits in a game seven different times.

Last Season's Final NCAA RPI: 41
If you have disdain for the politics of the various baseball polls and prefer the cold, hard math of the NCAA's official Rating Power Index (RPI), then consider that Rice's final 2017 RPI was No. 41 in the nation. Rice was among four C-USA schools ranked in the top 51 of last season's final RPI.

New At Reckling Park! Bixby Batting Barn; New Fan "Roost"
Rice's Reckling Park, the best place to watch and play a college game, is better than ever this season after its most-recent renovations that benefit both the student-athletes and fans. In the on-going commitment to player development, the enclosed Bixby Batting Barn down the right-field line has been upgraded with expansion and remodeling. The final phase of the upgrade is the installment of large color banners showcasing the program's 37 former Owls who have gone on to play in the major leagues. The true-blue fans meanwhile will be sure to flock to the permanent new `Roost' on the first base side for in-game hospitality. The fully-air conditioned facility features its own restrooms, lobby and service area, as well as a tiered outdoor patio that is close to the action but safe with newly installed netting.

Rice Owls On The Coaching Staff
There are two former Rice Owls on Wayne Graham's 2018 coaching staff. Rice graduate and two-time Texas High School Baseball Coach of the Year John Pope (Jones College, 1990) is in his second season as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He played his final two collegiate seasons at Rice in 1988 and 1989 and went on to log 19 years of coaching in the high school ranks in the greater Houston area. Former major leaguer and 2003 Rice National Champion Paul Janish joined the Owls' baseball staff as an assistant coach in August of 2017. Janish (Wiess College) played professionally the last 13 years with nine seasons in the major leagues, most recently in 2017 with the Baltimore Orioles... "It is a unique challenge to be a student-athlete at Rice," coach Graham explained. "I like having former Rice players on the coaching staff who have already been through the experience. It is important our players are able to relate to the staff in that way."

Rookie Ball!
There are some Rice newcomers to keep an eye on in 2018. Third baseman Braden Comeaux joins the Owls as a sophomore transfer from LSU-Eunice, the No. 2 junior college program in the nation. Comeaux started 55 games for the Bengals primarily at shortstop, where he batted .377 with 53 runs scored, 49 RBI, a .447 on-base percentage and 30 stolen bases. True freshman second baseman Trei Cruz is a highly honored switch-hitting prep standout from nearby Episcopal High School who was selected in the 33rd round of the 2017 Major League Draft by the hometown Astros. Cruz is a Rice University legacy player as his father, Jose Cruz Jr. (1993-1995), and uncle, Enrique Cruz (2001-2003) both played for coach Graham.

Take A Closer Look At Last Year
Rice had 31 losses in 2017, but a closer look is in order. The Owls always play a tough schedule, and a year ago the team played 27 games against eleven different teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament. In fact if you want to talk about a tough opening stretch, consider each of the Owls' first nine games to start 2017 (vs. the likes of Texas, Dallas Baptist, Southeastern Louisiana and TCU) all went on to make the NCAA Tournament. The final margin in eleven of the losses was two runs or less (and six of the losses were by a single run). The Owls saw a number of star players, including MLB draft pick Tristan Gray, Jackson Parthasarathy, Ricardo Salinas and Josh Pettitte, all sidelined at various points during the season.

21 Conference Titles In The Last 22 Years
After one year away Rice reclaimed a conference championship in 2017 by winning the C-USA Tournament title in Biloxi, Miss. From 1996 to 2015 the Owls had won or shared a total of 20-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles). The streak covered membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and now 11 C-USA titles from 2006-2017. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 22 years:
Year Conf. Regular Season Conf. Tourney
2017 C-USA 6th 1st
2016 C-USA 4th 2nd
2015 C-USA 1st tied 7th
2014 C-USA 1st 1st
2013 C-USA tied 1st 1st
2012 C-USA 1st tied 5th
2011 C-USA tied 1st 1st
2010 C-USA 1st 2nd
2009 C-USA 2nd 1st
2008 C-USA 1st tied 7th
2007 C-USA 1st 1st
2006 C-USA 1st 1st
2005 WAC 1st no tourney
2004 WAC 1st no tourney
2003 WAC 1st no tourney
2002 WAC 1st no tourney
2001 WAC 1st no tourney
2000 WAC tied 1st no tourney
1999 WAC 1st 1st
1998 WAC 1st South Div. 1st
1997 WAC 1st South Div. 1st
1996 SWC tied 6th 1st

Rice Since 1999
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 one of the nation's top win percentages over the last 19 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999-2017 (note: this listing will not be updated to include games played in 2018):
Team Years Wins Loses Ties PCT
Florida State 19 922 344 1 .728
Rice 19 870 357 0 .709
North Carolina 19 846 360 1 .701
LSU 19 859 374 6 .696
South Carolina 19 861 380 0 .694
Cal St. Fullerton 19 814 371 0 .687
Coastal Carolina 19 806 368 1 .686
Miami (Fla.) 19 813 371 3 .686
Oral Roberts 19 776 360 0 .683
Texas 19 811 397 1 .671
Arizona State 19 731 367 2 .665
Virginia 19 765 393 3 .660
Georgia Tech 19 773 405 1 .656
Oregon State 19 715 381 1 .652
TCU 19 766 411 0 .651
Florida 19 789 426 2 .649
Louisville 19 757 412 1 .647
Clemson 19 795 433 1 .647
Nebraska 19 738 409 3 .643
Stanford 19 732 411 2 .640
Florida Atlantic 19 725 410 2 .639
Texas A&M 19 759 431 3 .637
Kent State 19 712 405 0 .637
Dallas Baptist 12 451 257 0 .637
East Carolina 19 729 420 4 .634
Oklahoma St. 19 724 424 0 .631
Southern Miss 19 727 426 1 .630
Tulane 19 726 429 2 .628
Col. of Charleston 19 704 418 2 .627
Vanderbilt 19 737 439 1 .627
Louisiana 19 724 437 2 .623
St. John's 19 669 408 3 .621
Ole Miss 19 726 448 1 .618
Arkansas 19 723 453 0 .615

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