The Rice Owls prevailed after a six-run first inning to beat the visiting Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 7-3, in the second and final game of the series Wednesday night in front of 3,175 fans at Reckling Park in Houston.
Rice (11-7) scored six runs in the bottom half of the first inning for the early 6-0 lead over LA Tech (5-13). The inning was highlighted by an inside-the-park grand slam by Rice catcher Hunter Kopycinski on a ball that was lined over the head of center fielder Colby Johnson with bases loaded.
Right hander Omar Ugarte was relieved in the first with Rice leading 1-0 after suffering an ankle injury on a bunt single to the pitcher's mound. Ugarte (1-2) was charged with the loss after facing four batters and giving up three runs – all earned – on two hits in 0.1 inning of work. Left hander James Ferguson came on in relief of Ugarte in the first inning, followed by Sam Alvis, Adam Derouen, Caleb Dudley and Luke Giddens to close out the ball game.
Left hander Blake Fox (1-0) earned the win for the Owls after pitching three innings of three-hit baseball and no runs allowed. Fox came on in relief of starter Chase McDowell in the fourth inning.
The Bulldogs were led at the plate by Taylor Burch, who came on as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning to record two hits, one double, in as many plate appearances. First baseman Tyler Ervine also put together a 2-for-2 day at the plate, while Ryan Jones came on as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning to record two RBI for Tech.
Tech returns home for a 12-game home stand beginning with a three-game series versus Stephen F. Austin beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston.