Rice Shows Mental Toughness in 3-2 Win
Rice to Play St. John Saturday at 6; Bearkats to Face Longhorns at 2pm
By Mark Anderson
The Rice Owls had the opportunity to blow their opening game of the Regional today and hand the Bearkats a win. The fact they didn’t is a testimony to the makeup of this team.
The Rice defense had an uncharacteristic three errors—and one that could have been scored one. That’s what happened—but what didn’t happen is even more important.
They didn’t fold their tents.
They didn’t allow mistakes to get inside their heads and send them into a funk.
They didn’t quit.CREDIT BERRY AND BELL FOR THIS WIN
To a man, every player I spoke with after the game credited Ryan Berry and Bobby Bell for this win.
“Berry pitched his heart out,” Jimmy Comerota said after the game. “He pitched his guts out, and that’s what you expect of him. He’s a bulldog, and he gets after it, and he carried us tonight.”
“To tell you the truth, we kind of came out flat today,” Jared Gayhart said, “but our pitching came through for us tonight. Berry and Bell did a fantastic job.”
Rightfielder Chad Monzingo saw it the same way. When asked what the difference in this ballgame was, he responded, “Our two pitchers, Ryan Berry and Bobby Bell—that was the difference. We didn’t hit the ball that great, we made some mistakes in the field, but our pitchers kept them to two runs in a nine inning game against a really good hitting team.”
Starting pitcher Ryan Berry knew that the Bearkats would be loaded for bear playing Rice. “Coming into the game, we had the confidence to win the game,” Berry said. “Plus, we got out of the first few innings without giving up a great big lead.”RICE DID THE LITTLE THINGS THAT ADDED UP
While Rice did have some problems in the field, with both Comerota and Hague committing uncharacteristic errors early on, Rice was also doing the little things right that proved to be part of the difference in the ballgame. Take Todd Sebek’s single, for instance, in the third inning to right. Chad Mozingo’s hustle and rifle arm held him to only a single on what could have easily been a double. Another heads up play by Adam Zornes resulted in two Bearkats standing on third, and Trevino was tagged out by Zornes to help ease the threat after two errors opened the inning. These two plays helped Berry stay in control of the game.
Berry pitched well for six innings, keeping the Bearkats caged up when it counted the most. The top of the seventh brought a change by Wayne Graham as he brought in Bobby Bell to begin the seventh inning.
First pitch--pop-up. One out.
Second pitch--pop-up. Two outs.
Bell used his change of speeds and change-up to throw off the Bearkats' timing. The only threat was a deep flyball that Aaron Luna caught up to in leftfield. Bell was like a masterful artist on the mound, painting the corners, and keeping the Bearkats guessing what was coming next.
They were simply overmatched by Bell."I Didn't Give the No-Hit Sign"
While Rice won their first game, it was very clear afterwards that Coach Graham was not pleased with the win. As the Blog was interviewing Jimmy Comerota afterwards, Coach Graham walked by and said, "I didn't give the no-hit sign tonight, did I?"
"No sir," Comerota said, "you didn't." And remember--Comerota had two hits on the night.
Another Owl, Rick Hague (a.k.a., The Bubble Gum Hit Bandit, because he was the one who took the bubble gum Joyce Hardy brought to the players) got two hits in his first two plate appearances--one a single and the other a double. The other seven Owls in the lineup managed a grand total of three hits.
Grahan was pleased the Owls won--no doubt about that. But the fact the Bearkats held down the Owl offense was something he clearly was not happy about--and neither were any of the Owls afterwards.
But on the opening day of Regionals, a win is a win, no matter how it may look in the scorebook.
________________________________________________________NO COVERAGE SATURDAY DUE TO ASSIGNMENT IN STATE PLAYOFFS--COVERAGE RESUMES SUNDAY EVENING.________________________________________________________________________________________________________