Oklahoma no obstacle for No. 2 seed Rice
HOUSTON -- Rice's Brian Friday and Josh Rodriguez hit consecutive home runs in a four-run first inning to lead the Owls to a 10-4 win over Oklahoma Saturday in the opener of a best-of-three NCAA super regional series.
The Owls (54-10) and Sooners meet Sunday in the second game of the series at Rice's Reckling Park. A third game, if necessary, would be played Monday.
Rice roughed up Oklahoma starter Steven Guerra for six earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings. The Owls, who led 4-0 after one inning and 6-2 through the second, hit four home runs off Sooner pitching.
After Rice leadoff hitter Tyler Henley was hit a by a pitch in the first inning, Greg Buchanan delivered a single to right. One pitch later, Friday ripped his three-run shot just inside the pole down the left field line. Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway disputed the home run call, but replays showed Friday's blast to be fair.
Rodriguez then crushed another Guerra pitch well beyond the wall in left-center field for a 4-0 lead. Oklahoma (44-21) cut the lead to 4-2 on a run-scoring single by center fielder Joseph Hughes and an error by shortstop Friday. However, Rice continued to pound Oklahoma pitching and finished with 14 hits, including seventh-inning home runs from Aaron Luna and Danny Lehmann.
Eddie Degerman (13-1) allowed three earned runs and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings. Guerra (11-4) suffered the loss.
A Rice win Sunday would send the Owls to their fifth College World Series and first since Rice won the title in 2003.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press