Rice Baseball Team Blanks Tulane 5-0 Saturday to Claim C-USA Series
Pitchers Austin Kubitza and Taylor Wall combined on a one-hit shutout to help propel the Rice baseball team to a 5-0 Conference USA road victory over Tulane in the weekend series finale Saturday afternoon in New Orleans, La.
The Owl pitching duo came up big to help Rice claim the three-game series over the Green Wave two games to one. Kubitza worked the first 6.0 innings without allowing a base hit. The sophomore right-hander walked five and hit one batter, but the defense turned two double plays behind him, and a total of three in the game, to help get out of danger.
Wall pitched the final three innings and though he surrendered a base hit to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the seventh, he did not walk a batter and struck out three. No Tulane batter reached third base in the game and for his effort Wall earned his first save of the season.
“It was a great-pitched game,” said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. “Kubitza was back, his stuff was good. Wall was dominant. He really did a great job in relief. We also hit the ball a little better.”
Rice hitters were in gear early and quickly put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. Ford Stainback drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on Christian Stringer’s single through the right side. Stainback dashed home on Jeremy Rathjen’s base hit to left for a 1-0 Owl lead.
The Owls extended the lead to 4-0 with three runs in the top of the fifth. Shane Hoelscher started the inning off with an infield hit. He was safe at second when the Green Wave mishandled an attempt to retire him on a fielder’s choice. Hoelscher hustled to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out. The Blue & Gray then strung together three-straight hits to keep the inning alive. Stringer singled and scored from first base on Jeremy Rathjen’s double to right-center. A Tulane miscue on the play, the second of the inning, allowed Rathjen an extra 90 feet to third base. He scored on Craig Manuel’s single that made it 4-0.
Rice added another run in the sixth. Hoelscher connected on a pitch to left field for his third home run of the season. The shot put the Owls up 5-0. He and Rathjen finished the day with a game-high three hits. Five players had at least two hits on the day and the Owls collected a total of 13 overall.
With the win Rice improved to 23-11 on the season and 6-3 in Conference USA. Tulane is now to 21-10 overall and 3-3 in league play.