Junior John Wooten
April 21, 2012
HOUSTON, Texas - Craig Manuel's walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning gave No. 7 Rice (30-11, 11-3) a 6-2 series win over No. 24 East Carolina (26-13-1, 8-5-1) in Conference USA action Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park.
With the score tied at two, J.T. Chargois singled up the middle to start the bottom of the tenth and took second base on Jeremy Rathjen's fielder's choice bunt, where pitcher Tanner Merritt threw high to second trying to get the lead runner. Both runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch and after Shane Hoelscher loaded the bases with an intentional walk, Manuel stepped to the plate and delivered the game-winning shot over the left field wall giving Rice the series win.
Chargois (3-1), who was named to the NCBWA Stopper-of-the-Year Watch List earlier this week, picked up the win tossing two innings of shutout relief with three strikeouts. Rice starter Austin Kubitza allowed two runs (both earned) on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts in seven innings. The Owls used three pitchers to get to closer Chargois. John Simms recorded one out, Tyler Wall allowed a hit and Tyler Duffy got a pair of outs before handing the ball to Chargois.
Merritt (2-3) suffered the loss allowing five runs (all earned) on five hits with two strikeouts and a pair of walks. All five runs he allowed came via the long ball. Tyler Joyner worked 5 2/3 innings in his ninth start of the season. The junior lefty allowed one run (earned) on five hits with four strikeouts before turning the ball over to Merritt.
Chargois knotted the game at one in the bottom of the third on a sac fly to right center. Christian Stringer doubled to shallow left center and took third when Michael Fuda grounded out to Joyner right of the mound. Chargois plated his 20th run of the season on a ball to Philip Clark in right center, scoring easily on the throw home.
Philip Clark's RBI single to center in the eighth frame staked ECU to a 2-1 lead. Wooten singled down the left field line to start the inning and moved into scoring position on Jay Cannon's sac bunt back to the mound. With one out, Wright singled putting runners on the corners and causing Rice to bring in the lefty Taylor Wall. Clark sent a soft liner to center that dropped in front of Michael Fuda, but the centerfielder couldn't corral the ball and Wright and Clark each advanced a base. Tyler Duffy replaced Wall and retired Jack Reinheimer and Bryan Bass to limit the damage.
Hoelscher tied the game at two when he blasted a solo home run to straight-away center field.
After recording just one hit Friday night, ECU out hit Rice 11 to 10 on the afternoon. Reynolds, Wright and Wooten each collected a pair of hits, while Clark and Wooten were credited with an RBI. Both teams combined to leave 21 runners (ECU: 12, Rice: 9) on base in the extra inning affair.
The two teams will return to the diamond Sunday afternoon with a 12 noon (EST) first pitch scheduled.