#1 Owls take three from Tigers to close regular season
CUSA Fans sports writer Joey Whelan brings us a recap of the weekend C-USA baseball series between the Memphis Tigers and the Rice Owls.
Rice wrapped up its regular season schedule with a three game sweep of C-USA opponent Memphis at home on Sunday. The Owls ended the season on an eighteen game winning streak, and have won 26 of their last 27 games en-route to winning the C-USA regular season title.
Memphis @ Rice - Game 1
A big day at the plate by Tyler Henley helped Rice come away with a 6-4 over Memphis in the series opener. The junior centerfielder went 3-5 with 3 RBIs, one of which came on a solo home run which came in the 5th inning.
The Owls wasted little time in this one, plating two runs in the first inning thanks to a lead off walk issued to Brian Friday, and four singles scattered throughout the inning. Memphis would answer with a run in the 3 rd and 5 th innings, but Rice would put the game out of reach with a big 4 run bottom of the 5 th, highlighted by Henley’s solo blast. In all Rice recorded 14 hits on their way to scoring 6 runs.
Starter Ryan Berry had a solid outing, scattering 10 hits and allowing 3 runs over 6.1 innings of work to improve to 9-2 on the season.
Memphis @ Rice - Game 2
Rice found itself in an unfamiliar situation on Friday, trailing Memphis 2-1 heading into the bottom of the 6 th inning. The Owls were unfazed however, and would score 3 runs in the inning thanks to an RBI double from Aaron Luna and a 2-RBI single from Jess Beunger. The 3 runs would be the last scored by either team and give Rice a 4-2 series clinching win.
Luna, the designated hitter for the game, would be one of only two Rice batters to have a multi-hit game as the Owls were held to just eight hits thanks to a strong complete game performance from Memphis starter Scott McGregor.
The Owls would get some strong starting pitching as well. Senior Ryan Tacker struck out eight batters in 6 innings, and allowed just 2 runs. With the stellar showing, Tacker improved his record to 9-1. Relievers Matt Langwell and Cole St. Clair would finish up the game, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 4 in the final 3 innings.
Memphis @ Rice - Game 3
The Owls pounded out 11 hits and scored in five of the first six innings, propelling them to a 7-4 win, and a series sweep of Memphis. Right fielder Jared Gayhart led the way, going 2-4 at the plate with a solo home run, 2 RBIs and a run scored. Gayhart was one of four Rice batters to drive in a run.
Starter Joe Savery locked down the Tigers, allowing just 2 runs on 3 hits in 6.1 innings while striking out 7 batters. The win improved Savery to 8-1 on the season, the third Owl starter to reach the 8-win mark this year.
Luna Named C-USA Hitter of the Week
Sophomore Aaron Luna garnered conference hitter of the week honors for the second time this season, after going 7-14 from the plate in four games this week for the Owls. Luna drove in six runs, had a home run and a double, while driving in 6 RBIs to lead the team for the week.
Up Next for the Owls...
After finishing the regular season 45-11 (28-3 C-USA), the Owls get set to start the C-USA Tournament on Wednesday with a match up against Central Florida. Rice swept the season series at Reckling Park back in March, outscoring UCF 22-3 in the three games.