Adam Zornes collected four hits, drove in three and scored a pair of runs, while Ryan Berry allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings to help No. 7 Rice to a series opening win, 10-3, over No. 23 East Carolina in Conference USA action Friday night at Reckling Park.
Berry (5-2) picked up his fifth win of the season after giving up eight hits to the Pirates (27-11, 8-5) with four strikeouts and two walks. Matt Evers closed out the sixth allowing one run on one hit before being lifted for Bobby Bell, who worked an inning with three punch outs. Bryan Prince (1.1 IP, 2 K) and Lucas Luetge (0.2 IP 2 K) finished the game for the Owls (29-10, 11-2).
T.J. Hose dropped to 2-4 on the year after pitching five innings where he allowed five runs on nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Brad Mincey made his 19th appearance of the season going two innings where he allowed three runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Bailey Daniels (0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R) and Matt Laney (0.1 IP, 1 K) worked the eighth inning.
With the scored tied at zero in the bottom of the fourth inning, Rice plated three runs to take a 3-0 lead and never looked back. J.P. Pardon singled to center to start the frame then moved to second on Aaron Luna's second hit of the night. Freshman Rick Hague followed with a double down the left field line that scored Pardon and put runners on second and third with one out. Zornes singled to left field scoring both Luna and Hague.
ECU got on the board in the top of the fifth cutting into the Owls lead, 3-1. With two outs, Ryan Wood singled to left then moved to second on a Berry wild pitch. Stephen Batts drove in his 36th run of the season with an infield single that scored Wood.
Rice quickly extended its lead back to three, 4-1, in the bottom of the frame when Jared Gayhart plated Jimmy Comerota from second with a single to right field.
In the sixth ECU drew with two, 4-2, once again with two outs in the frame. Jamie Ray recorded his second hit of the game with a single to center then scored when freshman Dustin Harrington doubled down the right field line.
Rice would plate two runs in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-2 behind Zornes leadoff home run to left center off of Hose. After a Pirate pitching change, Chad Mozingo doubled to left center which was followed by a Comerota bunt single that put runners on first and third for pinch-hitter Doug Simmons, who reached on a fielder's choice that scored Mozingo.
ECU plated its final run of the game in the seventh when Harrison Eldridge and Wood recorded back-to-back doubles drawing within three, 6-3.
Rice would score a pair of runs in the seventh and eighth innings to cap the scoring at 10-3.
The Pirates and Owls will play game two of the three game series Saturday night with a first pitch at 8 p.m. (ET). The game will be televised on CBS College Sports.
Corey Kemp extended his current hitting streak to 15 games with his single in the fourth inning. His current streak is tied for the 10th longest in ECU history.
Ryan Wood, Brandon Henderson and Jamie Ray each collected two hits in the game.
The Pirates recorded 10 hits in game for the 25th time this season. When the Pirates reach the double-digit plateau in hits, their record is 21-4.
ECU's batters struck out 12 times and drew just two walks. It is the fifth time this season ECU has fanned at least 10 times in a game.