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CBD Visit: Rice bounces back, drops Texas Tech

HOUSTON – Michael Ratterree took a 2-2 pitch and drove it over the left field wall for a three-run home run in the first and fifth-ranked Rice never looked back as the Owls knocked off Texas Tech, 6-2, Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

With the win, Rice (10-1) is off to their best start since the 2003 national championship season in which the Owls began the year with a 33-1 record.

After surrendering two runs in the top of the first, Christian Stringer drew a leadoff walk for the Owls and then moved to third on a double from Michael Fuda. With two runners in scoring position, Ratterree jumped on a pitch from Rusty Shellhorn that just cleared the wall in the Crawford Boxes before recoiling back into the field of play.

In the second, Derek Hamilton led off with a single then moved to third on a wild pitch and a ground out before scoring on an infield bunt single from Geoff Perrott. Perrott, who executed the bunt perfectly, advanced to third as Shellhorn sailed the throw to first down the right field line.

The Owls took advantage of the throwing error as Christian Stringer laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third base line that allowed Perrott to score. In total, the Owls executed three bunts in the inning – two of which were singles.

Rice closed out their scoring in the fifth when Jeremy Rathjen ripped a two-out double to left center, scoring Michael Fuda who had singled earlier in the inning.

Shellhorn (2-1) was charged with his first loss of the season after allowing six runs – five earned – on six hits while striking out five and issuing just one walk in 4.1 innings of work. The outing marked the first time this season that a Red Raider starting pitcher failed to complete five innings.

Texas Tech (8-3) jumped on Rice starter Matthew Reckling as Jamodrick McGruder led off the game drawing a bases-loaded walk then promptly stole second. Barrett Barnes displayed his versatility in the ensuing at-bat as he drove in McGruder on a hard liner to left field then stole both second and third before scoring on a sacrifice fly from Scott LeJeune.

Despite throwing 36 pitches in the first inning, Reckling settled in and went the next 5.2 innings before allowing another hit from the Red Raiders offense.

“That gave him some confidence,” said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. “He has really good stuff with a good curve and he had a good changeup at times tonight. He probably could have gone deeper in the game but there isn’t a need for that when you have strong arms in the bullpen.”

Tech threatened in the seventh as Reckling loaded the bases before reliever Tyler Duffey bailed him out with a nasty slider in the dirt to strike out Reid Redman on three pitches. Duffey worked the final 2.1 innings of the game while fanning four batters and not surrendering a hit to pick up his second save of the season.

Reckling (2-0) picked up the win allowing two runs on just four hits over 6.2 innings of work. The senior struggled with his command at times, issuing three walks and hitting three batters, but was effective enough to shut down the Tech offense.

The Owls will close out play at the Houston College Classic Sunday night at 6 p.m. as they will send freshman Jordan Stephens to the mound against a Tennessee team that defeated Texas earlier Saturday afternoon.