Monday, February 16, 2004

Rice goes 2-1 in Minute Maid Classic 

Rice won its opener 9-6 over Texas Tech, and demolished Kansas State yesterday 13-0.

Unfortunately for the Owls, they may have lost their #1 ranking with a 6-3 loss on Saturday to the undefeated and possibly next #1 team, Texas Longhorns. 21,724 fans watched as the game went back and forth, with the Longhorns knocking out stud starter Jeff "Yeti" Niemann in the 6th inning with a 2-out 2 run home run to go up 3-2. The Owls rallied in the bottom of the 7th, tying the game on a bases loaded miscue by the Longhorn 3B, but failed to score further due to an inning ending double play. The Longhorns put 3 up in the top of the eighth and then handed the game over to closer Huston Street who put away the Owls without much ado.

The 21,000+ fans was the second most ever to watch a college baseball game. Yours truly watched on Fox Sports Southwest and got to listen to Rice alum and all-around good guy Lance Berkman sit in for about 5 innings of entertaining chatter as he reflected on how most people think of him as a chubby guy, and then he became the Astros centerfielder. Craig Biggio used to give him grief about all the complaining he did about tired legs. He reminded people that he has to run about half a mile just getting to and from his position each inning, and that after his first day playing centerfield, Biggio came up and apologized for all the grief he gave him.

A disappointing game, but the Owls will have three more shots at the Longhorns during the regular season, and probably another one or two in Omaha, where for the past two years these teams have met with the winner winning it all after ousting their opponent.

The Texas Tech game saw Rice starter Wade Townsend cruise to a 6-1 lead through 5 innings before freshman Garrett Pennington came in with the jitters and gave up 5 runs in the 6th and 7th to knot the game up at 6 apiece. The Owls rallied for three runs in the ninth to give the win to junior Josh Baker. Against Kansas State, the Owls scored 5 runs each in the first and third innings including a grand slam from junior thirdbaseman Adam Morris and that made it easy as sophomores Matt Ueckert and Eddie Degerman combined for a three hit shutout of the unranked and outclassed Wildcats.

The Owls face the Houston Cougars on Tuesday in the first of five matchups between the intracity rivals.

Owl Hoopsters Win Thriller
Meanwhile, the Rice basketball team scored the most points in its 89-year history with a thrilling 111-103 double overtime win over Tulsa. Jason McKreith scored 11 of his 35 points in the two overtimes to lead the Owls in a game that saw the Owls superior depth help them pull out the win as seven players (3 Owls) fouled out. Michael Harris scored 23 points and added 13 rebounds for the Owls, but was almost the goat when his missed free throw in the first overtime kept the game knotted at 98. The Owls move their record to 16-7 (8-4 in the WAC) and face Nevada at home on Wednesday.

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