HOUSTON — With Friday night’s ballroom blitz still echoing at Reckling Park, the Rice Owls got in the swing and added a few beats of their own. With two innings that saw four runs, and another that added three, the Owls evened the series the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at one game apiece.
The Owls 11 runs were the result of 16 hits, a day of production very much needed for Rice. The offensive outburst was needed given that, with backup Southern Miss designated hitter Jake Viaene hitting a home run in the top of ninth, all fourteen Southern Miss offensive players have hit home runs.
“We hit the ball and we had as many good at bats in the game today as we’ve had any game this year,” said Rice head coach Wayne Graham,
With Owl second baseman Tristan Grey going four for five, three being doubles, the Rice offense was set for a productive day.
“Tristan getting back into play makes all the difference in the world,” said Graham. “He’s a quality hitter, it’s just taken this long to get his timing back. He’s seven for his last nine.”
The eleven runs were the most Rice has scored in a game since they beat Stanford 12-2 on March 12. Rice first baseman Darryn Sheppard accounted for three of Rice’s 16 hits and knocked in two runs. It was in sharp contrast to the previous night’s 11 run loss. The situation was reversed as Rice chased four Southern Mississippi relievers the day after the Golden Eagles saw six different Rice pitchers.
“We try not to think about that too much. We knew we had the game,” said Sheppard. “We didn’t want to just give up and not stay confident or play hard the rest of the game. We wanted to keep on.”
Sheppard, whose three for five afternoon pulled him to .292 on the season,categorized his day as a success.
“I feel really confident now. I feel like I’m seeing the ball well and most of the time having a good swing on the ball. Last year at Baylor I was a .300 hitter. I’ve done it before and I know how to do it, and it’s finally working out for me right now. Hopefully I can keep it going the rest of the season.”