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Sun Drenched Liner Aids Rice; Owls Defeat San Francisco 3-2

GrahamRice_thumb.jpgThe #2 seed Rice Owls meet the #3 seed San Francisco Dons, Friday afternoon in game one of the Eugene Regional at PK Park.

In the bottom of the eleventh inning, a lower liner off the bat of first baseman Blake Fox, mixed with the afternoon sun and evaded San Francisco’s left fielder Derek Atkinson.

Center fielder Leon Byrd trotted home from second, resulting in a 3-2 Rice victory.

“We are very grateful to win, said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. “Austin Kubitza and Zech Lemond pitched extremely well and Geoff Perrott got that early home run. We really struggled with the bats and I hope we can get better during this tournament because I think we are a better hitting team than that.”

San Francisco got on the board first in the top of the second inning, after first baseman Zachary Turner led off the inning with a single to left field.

Two outs later, designated hitter Mitchell Rowan lined a double down the left field line, scoring Turner from first base.

The score remained 1-0 San Francisco, until the bottom half of the fifth inning, when Rice’s center fielder Leon Byrd singled to center with one out.

Catcher Geoff Perrott, homer-less on the season and with only one career home run at Rice, delivered arguably the biggest hit of his career; a two-run homer over the 335″ sign in left field.

Rice maintained a 2-1 lead until the bottom of the eighth inning, when pitch-hitter Harrison Bruce singled to get things started for the Dons.

Bruce moved to scoring position, after swiping his fourth stolen base of the year.

After Bruce moved to third on a groundout, second baseman Jason Mahood roped a grounder to the drawn in second baseman Christian Stringer. Stringer fielded the ball, but airmailed the throw  home allowing Bruce to score and tie the game at 2-2.

The score remained 2-2 until the action in the 11th.

“It’s a tough way to loose, said San Francisco head coach Nino Giarratano. When you come into this game, it’s a fear you have as a coach. You don’t want to have someone make that kind of mistake and have to hold on to that. I think we will bounce back. We will stay in this regional as long as we can.”

Both starting pitchers were effective as Rice’s Austin Kubitza pitched seven innings of two-run ball. He allowed six hits, walked one, and struck out six.

San Francisco’s starter Haden Hinkle finished the day with a line of six and two-thirds innings pitched. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk. He struck out four.

Rice closer Zech Lemond pitched four innings out of the pen. He didn’t allow a hit and struck out two.

The Owls take on the winner of Oregon and South Dakota tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m. PT.