May 20, 2010
HOUSTON -- Rice starting pitcher Jared Rogers held UAB scoreless through seven and two-thirds innings Thursday night as the Blazer baseball team suffered a 5-2 loss in the series opener at Reckling Park.
Designated hitter John Frost had two of the seven hits for UAB (27-24, 10-12 C-USA), and one of those came as part of a two-run ninth inning as the Blazers tried to rally late against Rice reliever Abe Gonzalez.
Frost singled home one run and catcher Digger Towe plated the second with a sacrifice fly before right fielder Ryan Ussery's single put two runners on with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate. But Gonzalez induced a ground-ball double play to end the threat and preserve the win for 21st-ranked Rice (34-19, 16-6 C-USA).
With Houston's win over East Carolina on Thursday, UAB now finds itself in a three-way tie for fifth place with the Cougars and Pirates with two regular season games remaining. Following Thursday's results, spots three through nine in the Conference USA standings are separated by just two games.
UAB and Rice resume their series Friday with the first pitch again scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT. Beau Pender will take the mound for the Blazers against Mike Ojala for the Owls.
In Thursday's game, Rogers held UAB to four hits and struck out four before leaving with two outs in the eighth. The Rice right-hander allowed only two UAB runners past first base. The Blazers stranded shortstop Jonathan Merritt at third in the first inning, and Rogers worked around a one-out double from Frost in the seventh.
"Their coaches said that was the best Rogers has thrown all year," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "He didn't walk anybody, he hit his spots and pitched down in the zone, and his defense made a couple of very good plays behind him."
UAB starter Mitch Kloskowski did his best to match the performance from Rogers. An RBI ground out from Rice second baseman Michael Ratterree in the second and a solo homer from catcher Diego Seastrunk in the fourth accounted for the game's only scoring until Rice added a trio of insurance runs in the eighth.
Kloskowski worked the first five innings on the mound for UAB, allowing only those two runs on five hits before handing the ball over to reliever Benji Waite with one runner on in the bottom of the sixth.
Waite got a ground-ball out and then stabbed a line drive to start a double play that got the Blazers out of the sixth. He then was part of another inning-ending double play in the seventh to keep the deficit at 2-0.
"You can't fault Mitch or Benji at all tonight," Shoop said. "I thought both of them were great, we just didn't do enough offensively to win. Tonight's loss was an offensive loss."
After being bottled up with just five hits through the first seven innings, Rice collected four in the eighth, including a two-RBI double from center fielder Jeremy Rathjen and a run-scoring single from third baseman Anthony Rendon.
Those three insurance runs proved to be crucial to stave off UAB's rally in the ninth, but Kloskowski and Waite combined to hold the Owls to single-digit runs for just the third time in Rice's past 12 games.
Seastrunk, Rathjen and designated hitter Craig Manuel led Rice offensively with two hits each, while Rathjen's two RBI led all players.
Frost extended his hitting streak to nine games in the loss for UAB, while center fielder Jamal Austin singled in the eighth to push his streak to eight games.