March 28, 2012
BEAUMONT - Ninth-ranked Rice University broke open a tight game Tuesday night by pounding out seven hits and scoring 10 runs in the fifth inning, and the Owls went on to cruise to a 17-2 victory over Lamar University.
First baseman Ryan Lewis and left fielder Michael Ratterree sparked Rice's big inning by collecting two hits each. Lewis led off the fifth with a double down the left field line, and he later added a two-run triple to the assault, while Ratterree boomed an RBI double and a two-run home run, his third of the season.
"They (the 19-8 Owls) hammered us in that one inning," said Lamar coach Jim Gilligan, who saw his Cardinals fall to 8-16 with their fourth-straight loss. "They manhandled us.
"The thing that bothered me is that we had some guys who shut it down. Yet, others didn't shut it down. We had some guys still competing right up until the end.
"The fact of the matter is we're going to have bunch up the guys who want to compete hard and go from there. It may put a strain on our pitching staff, but that's our only option at this time."
Rice's 17 runs matched the most the Cardinals have surrendered this season (UC Irvine scored 17 in blanking Lamar on March 2), and the Owls' 15 hits were the second most for an opponent this year.
The Owls, who dropped a 5-4 decision to Lamar in Houston last week, jumped on Cardinal starter and loser Ben Coram (now 1-1) for three hits and three runs in the first inning.
The Cardinals closed to within 3-1 on an unearned run in the third inning, and the best they could muster after that was a ninth-inning run on Garret Autrey's RBI groundout.
Sophomore right-hander Austin Kubitza, who was the preseason Pitcher of the Year in Conference USA, pitched the first five innings to even his record at 2-2. He allowed three hits and the unearned run while striking out four and walking one.
The Cardinals return to Southland Conference play Friday night when they open a three-game home series against Southeastern Louisiana University in Vincent-Beck Stadium.