Junior Jeremy Rathjenknocked a bases-loaded triple to right field in the bottom of the seventh inning to help rally the Rice baseball team to a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over visiting Texas State Tuesday night at Reckling Park in Houston.
Texas State built a 5-1 lead early in the contest but the Owls whittled the margin down to two, 5-3, to start the seventh. Owl freshman Ford Stainback was safe at first when the Bobcats had trouble fielding the ball in the infield. J.T. Chargois drew a walk and Christian Stringer was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Rathjen, the Rice’s clean-up hitter and homerun leader.
The Houston native lined a Texas State pitch into right field to clear the bases and give the Owls their first lead of the night, 6-5. In the top of the eighth, Chargois moved from the starting designated hitter to reliever with the task of keeping the Bobcats in check for the next two frames. The Owls held on for the 6-5 final for their second-straight win heading into a C-USA series at Marshall this weekend.
“It’s about time we got a big hit, and Jeremy got a huge hit to drive in three runs,” said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. “We still could do a better (batting) with runners in scoring position, but the relievers threw well, and obviously (Tyler) Duffey threw extremely well. Chargois got through his two innings. The bullpen won the game along with Jeremy. Winning a game like this against a good team will hopefully help your RPI (ratings power index) and keep some momentum going.”
Texas State had some momentum early Tuesday night. The Bobcats moved in front 1-0 in the top of the first inning without a base hit. The Owls hit the leadoff batter who proceeded to move around the stations before finally scoring on a wild pitch.
The Owls tied the game in the bottom of the second. Shane Hoelscher reached first on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on Ryan Lewis’ single to right before scoring on the second of Stainback’s three base hits.
The Bobcats scored four runs on just one hit in the top of the third to take a 5-1 advantage. Rice walked in a run with the bases-loaded before Cody Lovejoy hit a two-out double to score three more.
Rice continued to fight. Stainback singled-home Keenan Cook for a run in the fourth that made it 5-2. Christian Stringer led off the fifth with a double, moved to third on a Rathjen single and scored on a grounder to the right side that brought the margin to 5-3.
The Owls regrouped at the top of the order to start the seventh. Rathjen had already collected two hits in the game at that point and he was simply looking for another chance to help the team.
“I was just trying to hit the ball hard all game,” Rathjen said. “We know we have good hitters on this team and we’ve all been working pretty hard on manufacturing some runs. We’ll keep working and keep the focus up. All the games are very important.”
When the Owls were on the comeback trail, Tyler Duffey was on the mound keeping Texas State within striking distance. The standout from Bellaire High School fired 3.0 scoreless frames, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four to earn his first win of the season. Chargois notched his team-leading sixth save with 2.0 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and a walk while striking out two.
With the victory Rice improved to 23-11 on the season. Texas State is now 21-11 overall. The Owls next return to Conference USA league play with a three-game weekend series at Marshall April 13-15.