Baseball

Lightning In A Bottle

May 24, 2018

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Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (jsully@rice.edu)

BILOXI, Miss. – It may have taken nearly 23 hours over two days, but with a 6-2 victory over Louisiana Tech Thursday afternoon the Rice baseball team is headed to the winners' bracket of the 2018 Conference USA Baseball Championship, presented by The First.

The contest was finally completed Thursday after Rice built a five-run lead on Wednesday. The Owls (now 25-29-2) scored twice on bases-loaded walks in the second inning and added a run in the third on a fielder's choice grounder to take a 3-0 advantage.

Louisiana Tech led off the bottom of the third with a solo home run to get the second-seeded Bulldogs back within two, 3-1. Owl shortstop Ford Proctor later blasted his team-leading eighth homer of the season off the flagpole beyond the right-field fence of Biloxi's professional baseball venue in the top of the fifth inning. The three-run shot gave the Owls a five-run cushion, 6-1.

The game was then suspended Wednesday after six complete innings because of two lightning delays. The teams were ready to resume play just after 12 noon Thursday, but then that 'reboot attempt' was delayed by the threat of lightning before the teams were able to conclude the final three innings.

All told, the three delays on Wednesday and Thursday, totaled 5 hours, 10 minutes.

The Bulldogs continued to fight and pushed across a run in the eighth inning, but Owl reliever Kendal Jefferies wrapped up his three-innings of work with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his team-leading fifth save of the season. Owl starter Matt Canterino (7-4) went five innings on Wednesday, allowing a run on two hits while walking two and striking out five.

Rice moved into a winner's bracket game Friday with Florida Atlantic. That contest is scheduled for 9 am. Louisiana Tech will face sixth-seeded FIU later Thursday in the tournament's first elimination game.

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