HOUSTON—Jordan Dodson went 3-for-3 with four RBI to lead No. 5 Rice to a 9-7 win over No. 8 Texas A&M in the first game of the NCAA Houston Super Regional Saturday afternoon before a stadium-record crowd of 5,368 fans at Reckling Park.
The Owls (46-13) took advantage of five walks and a hit batter by the Aggie pitching staff, with five of the six free passes coming around to score. After Texas A&M (46-18) tied the contest with three runs in the fifth, Rice scored three two-out runs in its half of the frame in what would prove to be the difference in the game.
“When you look at it, this game was not typical of the first game of a weekend series, much less a super regional series,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “We got off to a good start, but it was our inability on the mound to make them earn everything they got that ultimately cost us. Three of their first four runs were either a leadoff walk or a hit by pitch, but obviously Rice hitters did a good job moving them and scoring them.”
A&M center fielder Kyle Colligan led off the game with a double to left and, after moving to third on a wild pitch, scored on a Dane Carter sacrifice fly to give the Aggies an early 1-0 lead.
Blake Stouffer made the score 2-0 in the second frame, punching a single to center to score Brian Ruggiano from second base.
Rice tied the game in the bottom half of the second on two-out RBI singles by Diego Seastrunk and Jeremy Dodson.
An Adam Zornes single and a Jimmy Comerota suicide squeeze each plated runs for the Owls in the third, giving Rice its first lead of the afternoon.
A two-out single up the middle by catcher Kevin Gonzalez in the fourth plated Brian Ruggiano with the Aggies’ third run of the day.
After the Owls added two more in the bottom of the fourth, A&M would score three times in the fifth to tie the contest at six.
With one out, a Carter walk and a single off the foot of the pitcher by Duran brought first baseman Luke Anders to the plate. The junior drove the first pitch inside the bag at first and into the right field corner, scoring both before being thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Following a pitching change, a walk and wild pitch moved Ruggiano to second. Designated hitter Darby Brown then delivered on a 1-2 pitch, lifting it over the head of center fielder Jared Gayhart and to the base of the wall for an RBI double.
Dodson and the Owls answered back again in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs and two on, both on walks, the Owl designated hitter doubled into the left field corner to score both. Gayhart then pushed Dodson home on a bouncer that kicked off the glove of Anders at first, making the score 9-6.
The score would remain the same until the top of the ninth. Brodie Greene led off with a double to left and moved to third on a fly ball to deep right center by Colligan. Carter’s groundout to second would bring Greene home to make the score 9-7, but Rice reliever Cole St.Clair followed that by getting a ground ball off the bat of Duran to end the game.
The Aggies out-hit the Owls on the afternoon, 10-9, with three players—Anders, Brown and Stouffer—posting two hits apiece.
“I thought we did a good job offensively,” Childress said. “We got to (Rice starter Ryan) Berry, we got his pitch count up, and we got (reliever Bryan) Price out of the game in a hurry, but (Cole) St.Clair came in and stabilized things for them and did a nice job. But we didn’t quit, we competed hard, and that’s something we’ll definitely take into tomorrow.”
A&M starter Brooks Raley, who did not factor in the decision, allowed six hits and six runs in 3 1/3 innings of work. Junior Kyle Thebeau (6-5) was saddled with the loss, allowing two earned runs and a pair of hits in 2 2/3 of action. Senior Kirkland Rivers followed with one hit shutout relief over the final two frames of the game.
St.Clair (10-2) picked up the win out of the bullpen, allowing two hits and one earned run as he pitched the final 4 1/3 innings of action.
The series continues on Sunday with first pitch set for 6 p.m. Aggie freshman Barret Loux (6-2, 4.27 ERA) is scheduled to get the ball on the mound. The game will air locally in Bryan/College Station on WTAW-AM 1620 and will be televised regionally by ESPN2 (check local listings).
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES:
• Kyle Thebeau tied a school record with his 32nd appearance of the season on the mound…he equals the mark set by Hart Hering in 2006…Thebeau’s 78 career appearances rank him fourth all time, eight shy of the school record (86, Chris Russ, 1998-01).
• Jose Duran’s fifth-inning single gave him 103 on the year and moved him into third place on A&M’s all-time single-season chart…Duran now trails Jason Tyner (107 in 1998) and Chad Alexander (106 in 1995).
• Brian Ruggiano became A&M’s 100th hit batsman of the season when he was plunked with a 1-2 pitch leading off the eighth inning.
• A&M is now 2-6 all-time in super regional games and 52-51 all-time in NCAA play.
• Three Aggies posted multi-hit games: Luke Anders (22nd season, 41st career)… Darby Brown (25th season, 37th career) and Blake Stouffer (14th season, 55th career).
• Saturday’s Reckling Park record crowd of 5,368 bested the previous high of 5,234, set on June 9, 2007 in the second game of the NCAA Super Regional between A&M and Rice…it marks the third stadium record attendance the Aggies have set in 2008 (4,294 at TCU on April 29 and 1,812 at Sam Houston State on May 6).
• Eight members of the Aggie baseball team were selected this week in the Major League Baseball draft…Jose Duran (sixth round, Milwaukee); Kyle Thebeau (ninth, San Diego); Alex Wilson (10th, Chicago Cubs); Blake Stouffer (13th, Washington); Luke Anders (16th, New York Yankees); Dane Carter (22nd, Atlanta); Brian Ruggiano (23rd, Los Angeles Dodgers); and Kirkland Rivers (37th, Houston).
• Texas A&M now leads the all-time series between the schools, 175-90-2.
• Game-time temperature was 93 degrees with partly sunny skies and winds in from left center at 10-15 miles per hour.