By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
Manny Garza and Paul Smith drove in three runs apiece Saturday as the Rice Owls bounced back from a series-opening loss for a 13-8 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.
In a Conference USA game that featured three lead changes, Rice pounded out 13 hits and took advantage of eight UTSA walks to even the best-of-three at one win apiece.
A big blow for the Owls came in the fifth inning when Smith, a freshman from Houston Episcopal High School, blasted a three-run home homer to cap a five-run outburst and boost his team into a 9-5 lead.
After UTSA rallied twice over the next few innings, Rice’s Ben Royo unloaded with a long, two-run homer off Drake Smith in the bottom of the eighth to make it 13-8.
For UTSA, Taylor Smith (no relation to Paul Smith) and Tye Odom both went two for four at the plate with two RBIs. Smith cranked a two-run homer. Josh Killeen had three hits and scored twice.
The series finale between teams tied for the early lead in the C-USA race is set for Sunday afternoon at Rice’s Reckling Park.
UTSA 19-5, 4-1
Rice 12-11, 4-1
UTSA at Rice, Sunday, 1 p.m.
UTSA at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Tuesday, 6 p.m.
On Friday, the Roadrunners won the opener, 4-3, in 11 innings. Freshman Tye Odom delivered the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th with an RBI single. Simon Miller pitched 4 and 2/3 innings of relief for the victory, and Daniel Shafer got the last two outs for the save.