Top Seed Rice Cruises Into Second Round

Rice broke a scoreless tie in the third inning with two runs and then scored 13 runs over the next four innings en route to run-ruling No. 8 UCF, 16-6, in game two of the 2007 C-USA Baseball Championship at Clark-LeClair Stadium on the campus of East Carolina University. The Owls rapped out 21 hits in the win and advance to face No. 5 Memphis at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Owls All-American candidate and C-USA Player of the Year Joe Savery tied a conference tournament record with a career-high five hits, while Aaron Luna was 4-for-5 with four RBI and Jordan Dodson was 3-for-6 with five driven in.

After the Owls scored two runs in the bottom of the third on RBI singles by Luna and Savery, the Knights responded with three runs of their own to take a brief lead.

Tyson Auer led off the inning with a single for UCF and then scored on a well executed hit and run by Kiko Vasquez. Chris Duffy then stepped to the plate and singled to advance Vasquez to third. Ryan Richardson hit the Knights third straight single to score Vazquez. After a sac bunt to advance the runners, Chadd Hartman hit a sac fly to center to score Duffy and give the Knights the 3-2 advantage.

The lead was short lived as the Owls responded with five runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to grab the lead for good. All five Rice runs were scored with two outs in the frame. A Brian Friday double started the onslaught. Jess Buenger singled to score Friday and tied the game before Luna and Savery followed with singles of their own, with Savery’s hit driving home Buenger. Jordan Dodson launched a home run to right field to put the Owls up 7-3.

The Owls tacked on four more runs in the fifth, highlighted by a three-run Danny Lehmann home run blast, and three more in the sixth when Aaron Luna went deep for the ninth time this season.

Rice tacked on another run in the seventh and ended up the game in the eighth via run rule when Beunger reached base on a hit by pitch, moved to second on a Savery single and came around to score on a Dodson single.

Mitch Herold took the loss for the Knights, only lasting 3.2 innings, while giving up seven earned runs and fanning two. Brett Bordwine and Derek Abriola both saw action on the mound as well, surrendering seven and two runs, respectively.

C-USA Freshman of the Year Ryan Berry went five innings for the Owls to pick up the victory. He improved to 10-2 on the season and struck out four in the win.

Offensively, UCF’s Richardson was a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-3 qwith his first home run of the season. Matt Horwath had a pair of RBI for the Knights, who were making their C-USA Tournament debut.

Rice advances to face No. 5 Memphis at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, while UCF will play in Thursday’s elimination game at 9 a.m. against Houston.