Junior Seth Maness
April 24, 2010
HOUSTON, Texas - Anthony Rendon's three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth lifted Rice to a 3-2 come from behind win over No. 21 East Carolina Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park. With the win the Owls take the Conference USA series and improve to 25-16 overall and 10-4 in league action, while the Pirates fall to 24-16 and 6-5.
Down to its final four outs of the afternoon, Rick Hague drew a two-out walk and Jeremy Rathjen followed with a single through the left side setting up Rendon's heroics. ECU made a pitching change lifting starter Seth Maness, who held the Owls scoreless through 7 2/3 innings, for closer Seth Simmons. The right-hander went ahead in the count throwing a strike on the outer half of the plate, which was followed by a ball up high. On the next pitch Rendon, the reigning Conference USA Player-of-the-Week, uncorked on a Simmons pitch sending the hanging breaking ball over the left field wall for a 3-2 advantage.
Rice's Doug Simmons (3-0) picked up the win in relief working a scoreless eighth frame with a pair of strikeouts. Tyler Duffey notched his third save of the year after getting Kyle Roller and John Wooten to ground out to second before securing the series win when Austin Homan grounded back to the pitcher to end the game. Starter Mike Ojala was solid on the afternoon striking out a season-best 10 batters in seven innings and allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits in the no-decision.
Simmons (2-2) suffered the loss allowing a run (earned) in one-third of an inning. Maness was brilliant in his start scattering five hits over 7 2/3 innings with five strikeouts and two walks. The right-hander was charged with two runs (both earned) as he was responsible for both Hague and Rathjen when he left the game in the eighth.
Whitehead, who was 3-for-4 on the day, put ECU up 2-0 in the sixth when he scored on a passed ball from second base. With one down in the frame, Whitehead laced his second hit of the contest back up the middle and took third on a fielding error by Jimmy Comerota during Corey Thompson's at-bat.
Game three of the series will take place Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. (EDT) when the Pirates look to salvage a win in the series sending Kevin Brandt (3-4, 3.29 ERA) to the hill against Jared Rogers (4-1; 4.50 ERA).