HOUSTON -- Withstanding two late rallies by the Owls, No. 1 Texas (33-6) edged No. 15 Rice (26-14) by a score of 7-6 in front of a stadium-record 5,227 fans at Reckling Park on Wednesday, April 20. With the tying run on the third and two down in the bottom of the ninth, J. Brent Cox (Bay City, Texas) struck out the next batter he faced on a 3-2 pitch to seal the Longhorns' second victory in as many meetings against the Owls in 2005.
After a walk to right fielder Nick Peoples (Round Rock, Texas) and a single from Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas) in the top of the first, the Horns pulled a double steal that resulted in an errant throw to third base and a 1-0 UT lead. Two innings later in the third, a pair of Rice errors combined with a wild pitch to plate an unearned run for the Horns and up their advantage to 2-0. In the third, UT managed to load the bases on a bunt single from Clay Van Hook (Brenham, Texas), a hit batter and a fielder's choice bunt before a Robby Hudson (Redlands, Calif.) two-run single staked the Longhorns to a 4-0 lead. Texas starter Kenn Kasparek (Weimar, Texas), meanwhile, limited the Owls to one walk and a base hit over the first five innings.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Rice put two runners on via a walk and a single before a RBI-base hit from Jordan Dodson followed by a home run off the bat of Adam Hale knotted the game at 4-4. Quickly answering in the top of the seventh, Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas) led off with his ninth home run of the season to reclaim the lead for Texas at 5-4. Still alive in the frame, Seth Johnston (Boerne, Texas) then followed Stubbs' round-tripper with a double down the left-field line before stealing third and scoring on a fielder's choice groundout from Thomas Incaviglia (Monterey, Calif.) to push the Horns in front by a score of 6-4. An inning later, David Maroul (Benbrook, Texas) doubled, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch with two outs to make it a 7-4 ballgame.
Down by three, Rice again rallied with two outs in the bottom of the eighth as, after three straight walks loaded the bases, shortstop Josh Rodriguez singled to score two runs and make it a one-run contest at 7-6. With the tying run now standing on second, Cox, who became the third UT reliever on the night in the eighth, then got his next batter to flyout to right and keep the Horns in front. After a 1-2-3 top of the ninth for UT, the Owls put their leadoff man on in the bottom of the frame when pinch-hitter Derek Myers was hit by a pitch. Myers would advance to third base after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, but Cox struck out the last batter he faced to end the game and seal the win for Texas. While Texas reliever Buck Cody (Oklahoma City, Okla.) improved his record to 4-1 on the year with the victory, Hale, who pitched in relief and played both left and right field during the game, incurred the loss for the Owls.
Leading the way offensively for the Horns was Stubbs, who was 2-for-5 with a RBI and one run scored, Van Hook, who collected two hits, and Hudson, who drove in a pair of runs. Rice, meanwhile, was led by Hale, who went 1-for-3 with three RBI, and Jordan Dodson, who scored two runs on the evening. Of additional note for Texas, Kasparek allowed only two runs on two hits over 5.2 innings during his fifth start of the year while striking out a career-high six on the night.
Up next, the Horns head to Stillwater, Okla., to open a three-game conference series against Oklahoma State on Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m. Central.