June 6, 2010
Senior RHP Mike Ojala threw his first career complete game, scattering five hits to lead Rice to a 9-1 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday afternoon. The Owls stayed alive at the Austin Regional, but fell to host Texas on Sunday night, 4-1 to end their season at 40-23. Southern Miss saw its season come to an end on Sunday afternoon with a 17-8 loss to host Auburn.
RICE 9, LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 1
AUSTIN - Finally, Rice senior righthander Mike Ojala got his complete game.
It took perseverance against the wilting Central Texas heat and some coaxing of Rice coach Wayne Graham, but Ojala finished what he started for the first time, scattering five hits in a 9-1 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette in an elimination game at Disch-Falk Field Sunday afternoon.
Ojala (6-2) was making his 34th career start and his 10th this season after undergoing ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction last June. As he regained strength in his right elbow and reclaimed the dominant form he flashed before tearing the ligament midway through his junior season, Ojala began lobbying Graham to let him go the distance.
With temperatures in the mid-90s and Ojala admittedly running on fumes, Graham strolled to the mound with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to check on the Kingwood High product one last time. Ojala cut off Graham near the third-base line with a sincere proposition.
"I made a deal with him," Ojala said of the meeting following his one-out walk to Ragin' Cajuns catcher Chad Keefer. "I said, `If I don't get this guy, you can pull me out.' And he goes, `Alright.' And I go, `If I get this guy, I get the next guy, too.' And he goes, `OK, OK.' And he got out of there."
Ojala induced a fly ball off the bat of pinch hitter Trask Switzenberg to Chad Mozingo in right field for the second out of the ninth, and then carved up another pinch hitter, Brian Bowman, for his ninth strikeout. Ojala retired 12 consecutive hitters in the middle of his 114-pitch effort.
Early and late he relied on his defense. Freshman second baseman Michael Ratterree made a sparkling diving stab of a Justin Robichaux line drive in the second before springing to his feet and making a throw to first base that Jimmy Comerota scooped to double off Tyler Frederick. The Owls turned another double play in support of Ojala in the eighth before sophomore third baseman Anthony Rendon produced his gem.
With a runner on third and two outs, Rendon dove to his left and smothered a sharp grounder from Matt Goulas behind the bag. With haste he made an accurate throw across the diamond to nip Goulas.
"As you could see, the defense was awesome," Ojala said. "That's one of the greatest plays I've ever seen in my life that Anthony Rendon made."
Ojala found his groove after Rice (40-22) posted seven runs in the fourth. Louisiana-Lafayette lefthander Taylor Hubbell (4-4) had dodged bullets in the first and third, stranding a total of five runners before the Owls finally broke through. Comerota, Mozingo and junior shortstop Rick Hague drove in runs over successive at-bats before Jeremy Rathjen and Rendon walked to load the bases for senior catcher Diego Seastrunk. After flying out with the bases loaded to close the third, Seastrunk roped a two-out, two-strike double to the left-field wall off reliever Thad Griffen to clear the bases and double the Owls' lead to 6-0.
Michael Fuda added an RBI single to close the scoring in the fourth before Rathjen stroked a leadoff homer in the sixth and Ratterree a run-scoring single in the ninth to cap the scoring and set the stage for the showdown most everyone had anticipated when the regional was announced. Rice will meet top-seeded Texas (48-11) tonight at 6:30.
Ojala was initially slated to face the Longhorns on Saturday night, but the Ragin' Cajuns altered those plans when they shut out the Owls 1-0 on Friday. With Rice facing elimination, he was the perfect selection to salvage the Owls' season, and the fans showed their appreciation as Ojala labored to finish off the Ragin' Cajuns in the bottom of the ninth.
"He's been with us for four years and managed through some injury," Rice pitching coach David Pierce said. "He's done everything we could possibly ask from him. He was outstanding as we knew he would be."
Added Ojala: "I was fighting back tears. I was throwing as hard as I could those last few pitches. That was about it. The tank was pretty empty."
AUBURN 17, SOUTHERN MISS 8
AUBURN, Ala. - The Southern Miss baseball team saw its 2010 season come to an end at the 2010 Auburn Regional with a 17-8 loss to Auburn Sunday afternoon.
The Golden Eagles (36-24) finished the season winning the 2010 Conference USA Championship while advancing to their eighth consecutive NCAA Regional.
"I thought we ran into a tough Auburn club today, they are a great offensive club," head coach Scott Berry said. "I was concerned about our pitching depth coming into the game, and it showed through the game"
Southern Miss simply did not have an answer for the Auburn offense today. The Tigers scored 15 runs in the first five frames and cruised to victory. Starting pitcher Geoffrey Thomas allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings of work. Reliever Jay Myrick allowed only one hit but walked four while surrendering five runs and Paxton King allowed two earned runs in his one inning of work. Seth Hester was the only Eagle pitcher to hold Auburn at bay
At the plate Joey Archer led the attack in his final game wearing the black and gold, he was four-for-five including a solo home run in his final at bat. Another senior also shined in his last game as an Eagle, Travis Graves was two-for-four with four RBI.
Sophomore B.A. Vollmuth was three-for-five and belted his 20th home run of the season.
Auburn struck for the first run of the game in the top of the first inning as Brian Fletcher hit a solo home run off Thomas for an early 1-0 Tiger lead.
Southern Miss answered in the bottom of the first as Kameron Brunty singled to lead off the inning and B.A. Vollmuth bombed his 20th home run of the season, a two-run shot over the right-center field wall. The Golden Eagles loaded the bases with two-outs on two walks and an Archer single before Travis Graves ripped a double over the centerfielder's head to plate all three runs and put Southern Miss up 5-1 and the end of the first inning.
The Tigers answered right back with a three-run home run by Casey McElroy in the top of the second to cut the Southern Miss lead to one at 5-4.
Auburn added another run in the top of the third inning to tie the game, but should have taken the lead. Kevin Patterson hit a two-out double in the left-center field gap and the first run easily scored, but as Ryan Jenkins was rounding third he tripped and fell down forcing him to scamper back to the bag. Thomas then struck out the next Auburn batter to leave the runners stranded in scoring position and the game tied.
Southern Miss answered right back to retake the lead as Joey Archer led off the bottom of the third with a double, was moved to third a ground ball by Dillon Day and scored on Graves' RBI single to put the Eagles up 6-5.
Auburn scored for the fourth consecutive inning and took their first lead since the first as Thomas allowed a single and walked a batter before leaving the game for reliever Jay Myrick.
Myrick walked the second batter he faced before surrendering a grand slam to Hunter Morris to put Auburn up 9-6 in the fourth inning.
The Tigers added to their lead in the top of the fifth as Myrick walked the first three batters of the inning before being lifted for Paxton King. The first batter the King faced lined a two-RBI single to centerfield before Trent Mummy hit a three run home run over the right field wall.
King appeared to be out of the inning but a rare error on Taylor Walker allowed the final run of the inning to score, putting Auburn up 15-6.
Seth Hester put up the first zeros of the game for Southern Miss, holding Auburn scoreless in the sixth and seventh before allowing two runs in the eighth inning.
Southern Miss added a single run in the eight inning on a RBI single by Vollmuth and a single run in the ninth on a solo home run by Joey Archer.
TEXAS 4, RICE 1