April 17, 2007

Kyle Breaks the Record, Rice Breaks the Streak

The 5th-ranked Longhorns baseball team fell 7-4 to #6 Rice in Houston tonight in a steady drizzle. The loss breaks a 10-game Texas win streak against the Owls. The last time Texas lost to Rice, Tim Moss and Omar Quintanilla were roaming Texas's middle infield. All things considered, losing one game in every 11 against your top-10, in-state rival is nothing to lose any sleep over.

Rice played a very impressive ballgame. Starting pitcher Chris Kelley looked nearly unhittable at times. He scattered 4 hits and 2 runs over 6 innings of work--but one of those hits (and one of those runs) was Kyle Russell's record-breaking 21st homer of the season on the top of the 6th. It was against the wind, opposite field, and a no-doubter. Kyle is now the Longhorns' all-time leading single-season homerun hitter, and with plenty of ABs still to go.

Russell's bomb, however, was the lone bright spot for the usually-daunting Texas offense. Leadoff hitter Jordan Danks and number 2 man Chance Wheeless combined for an 0-for-9 night, and both scored the Golden Sombrero with 3 strikeouts each.

The Owls gave themselves a comfortable cushion in the bottom of the 5th, when Texas reliever Pat McCrory walked the first 2 hitters who both ended up scoring on DH Aaron Luna's double which chased McCrory. That one-hit, 2-run frame left Rice with a 4-1 lead.

The Horns entered the 7th trailing 6-2, but gave themselves a shot to get back in the hunt. Nick Peoples and Chais Fuller led off with back-to-back singles, and then Rice reliever Scott Lonergan pulled a 2006-World-Series-Detroit-Tigers move by throwing away a sure out at 3rd on a Travis Tucker bunt, allowing Peoples to score. Fuller then scored on a Lonergan wild pitch which put Tucker on 3rd base with nobody out. But a failed safety squeeze by Danks, a K by Wheeless, and a pop-out by Bradley Suttle ended Texas' best threat of the night, and the Longhorns could get nothing going for the rest of the night.

Tonight was an indication of just how good Rice's pitchers are when they're on. Aside from Lonergan's tough night, Rice got great outings from Kelley and Cole St. Clair. On the orange side, starter Austin Wood gave up 2 runs and 3 hits in just 3.1 innings of work, but those numbers don't indicate a couple of bailouts he received from his defense. The middle-relief combo of McCrory, Hunter Harris, and Keith Shinaberry, although they were not terrible. Randy Boone had one batter, 3 pitches, and one strikeout. Alex Posey pitched the 8th and did not allow a run.

The loss is just the 11th of the year for Texas, and you can bet that Augie's boys are hoping to get another shot at Rice in Omaha in June. Next up, the Longhorns travel to Lincoln for a big conference series against Nebraska. All 3 games are televised, kind of: Friday's is on CSTV, Saturday's is on FSN Southwest, and Sunday's game is on ESPNU. For the 2 of you who get that channel.

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