Rice wins to end UTSA’s string of five straight AAC series victories

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA’s five-for-five streak of weekend series victories in the American Athletic Conference came to an end Saturday afternoon in Houston.

The Rice Owls erupted for five runs in the first inning and three in the second for a commanding eight-run lead en route to a series-clinching 9-3 victory over Roadrunners.

After winning 9-8 in 10 innings on Friday night, the Owls came alive early as Nathan Becker hit a two-run double and Trey Duffield added a three-run homer in the bottom of the first, allowing the Owls to cruise to their second straight win over the Roadrunners and their fifth in a row overall.

The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.

Rice cranked out 16 hits to back the pitching of lefthander J.D. McCracken, who pitched 8 and 1/3 innings for the victory. McCracken was a steady performer, yielding only six hits and three walks while striking out three. The Rice infield defense turned three double plays behind him.

One of those double plays served to kill what potentially could have been a big inning for the Roadrunners in the top of the fourth.

With one out and a runner on base, Ty Tilson hit a ball down the right field line. The first base umpire turned around and watched it hit the ground near the line. He called it fair, which would have resulted in one run on the board for the Roadrunners.

But after a review, the umpires reversed themselves and called it foul. Tilson eventually bounced into an inning-ending double play.

Mason Lytle hit a two-run homer for the Roadrunners in the top of the sixth. Alex Olivo set it up with a leadoff double, and Lytle followed with his ninth homer of the year to make it 9-2.

UTSA scored again in the ninth, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep alive what had been a remarkable string of successful weekends in its new conference.

As former rivals in the Conference USA, UTSA and Rice are playing their inaugural season as members of the AAC. UTSA started the conference schedule in style, winning two of three against defending champion East Carolina.

The Roadrunners followed with series victories over Tulane, Charlotte, Memphis and UAB. The weekend triumphs against Tulane and Memphis both came on the road. Against both Charlotte and UAB, UTSA lost the opening game and rebounded to win the next two.

With attention turning to Sunday’s series finale, Rice is the team on a roll. The Owls not only have won five straight, they have also won eight of their last nine. Given that the Owls had lost nine straight and 13 of 14 before the winning started, it’s a notable achievement.

The Owls also feel good about reversing a trend against the Roadrunners in the series between the two in-state rivals. The Roadrunners won five of six against the Owls last season. In three previous seasons, Pat Hallmark-coached UTSA won 12 and lost five against Rice.


UTSA 24-18, 11-6
Rice 17-25, 8-9

Coming up

Game 3 of a three-game series in the AAC. UTSA at Rice, Sunday at 1 p.m. UTSA will play a non-conference, mid-week game at home Tuesday at 6 p.m. against I-35 rival Texas State. The Roadrunners return to AAC play at home next weekend (May 3-5) against the Wichita State Shockers.


American Conference-leading East Carolina (34-8, 13-4) has won two straight on the road at Memphis this weekend, claiming a 14-3 victory on Saturday afternoon after winning 14-0 in seven innings (on the run rule) on Friday night.

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