BILOXI, Miss. (Conference USA) - Cade Edwards’ two-run double in the first inning got Rice off to a good start, and three Owls limited Louisiana Tech to five hits as Rice eliminated the Bulldogs 4-3 Thursday morning at The First 2019 C-USA Baseball Championship presented by Air Force Reserve.
Edwards, who also turned in back-to-back defensive gems at second base in the eighth inning, helped spark seventh-seeded Rice (25-30) to a 4-1 lead after six innings.
Third-seeded Tech (34-24) scored twice in the top of the seventh to give the Owls pause, Dalton Wood came out of the bullpen to cover the final 2 1/3 innings without allowing a baserunner and striking out six.
“This was a show of resilience because we have lost our last four games on walk-off fashion, so to be able to come back and hold on to that one (Thursday) is a great relief and our guys did a great job of fighting,” Rice coach Matt Bragga said. “Dalton Wood came in, in the end, and did a good job. Great poise for a freshman.”
As tough as taking a two-and-out, Louisiana Tech Lane Burroughs said the hardest road lies ahead, with the university still recovering from a tornado that wreaked devastation across the Ruston, La., campus, including excessive damage to the baseball program’s stadium, locker room and other facilities.
“I don’t like losing, no matter what it is,” Burroughs said. “Credit Rice. We just didn’t play good baseball down the stretch and it’s on me. We have to get better.
“Now we have to look at some stuff we haven’t had to deal with. We don’t have a stadium, we don’t have a locker room. Stuff we’ve been able to avoid because we had a distraction and that distraction has been to play baseball. We have to deal with it now. It’s going to be tough. We have to put this behind us and we have to get better.”
Tech’s starting pitcher, David Leal (4-2), went the distance, allowing four runs on eight hits over eight innings. He walked one, struck out eight.
Rice left-hander Evan Kravetz (6-2) allowed a run on one hit over five innings, walking four and striking out five.
Tech got to Owls reliever Jackson Parthasarthy for two runs on four hits before Wood’s scoreless stretch earned him his first save and doomed the Bulldogs.
Tech first baseman Mason Mallard had a pair of singles, while designated hitter Steele Netterville and second baseman Hunter Wells each doubled.