June 4, 2017
For the second straight year Rice’s season has ended at Alex Box Stadium to the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers. The Tigers and freshman pitcher Eric Walker tamed the Owls Sunday night 5-0. Walker went eight innings, allowing no runs on seven hits, and he struck out eight and didn’t give up a walk. The Owls went 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament and ended the season 33-31 overall.
“LSU had great pitching and they had a great day on defense,” said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. “I thought our guys competed well. A little tired, but we were behind the eight ball once we got in the losers bracket. I’m really proud of our guys and their effort.
“We had a good year, and I hope LSU goes on to win the national championship, because they’re a fine club and they treat people right,” he said.
After losing their first game Friday at the Baton Rouge Regional to Southeastern Louisiana, Rice had the difficult task of playing from the losers bracket: They had to compete in elimination games the rest of the way. After beating Texas Southern 13-6 Saturday and Southeastern Louisiana 9-5 Sunday afternoon, the Owls needed to beat LSU twice in a row after playing one more game than LSU and using up valuable pitching arms in the process.
The Tigers got things going in the second. Leading off the inning, Greg Deichmann reached first on a Dane Myers error at third base. After a Zach Watson ground out, Josh Smith doubled down the first base line to score Deichmann. Beau Jordan singled and advanced Smith to third base. Smith then scored on Michael Papierski’s ground out. Jake Slaughter added a single to center and brought in Jordan to make it 3-0 LSU. Slaughter was caught stealing at second base to end the inning.
LSU tacked on a run and made it 4-0 in the top of the third inning. Tigers shortstop Kramer Robertson led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Cole Freeman bunt-singled and advanced Robertson to third. Then with one out, Antoine Duplantis’ sacrifice fly out to left scored Robertson. After 2 1/3 innings, Graham brought in left-handed pitcher Evan Kravetz, who got Deichmann to fly out to left and Watson to ground out to third to end the inning.
The Tigers opened the fourth inning with a Smith walk. After a bunt foul out, Kravetz walked Papierski and the Owls went to the bullpen for the second time. Sophomore Jackson Parthasarthy entered the game, and his second pitch hit Slaughter, which loaded the bases with still just one out. Robertson grounded into a fielder’s choice at third but Smith scored on the play to account for the inning’s single run, making it 5-0 after 3 1/2 innings. There was no more scoring from there on.
Tigers starter Eric Walker was stellar the rest of the way, as was Parthasarthy. Parthasarthy gave up no runs and only one hit in 5 2/3 innings’ work to close out the game for the Owls. Rice loaded the bases in the ninth inning but couldn’t get a run across. The last time Rice was shut out in a regional was against Oregon (11-0) June 2, 2013.
Watch Coach Graham and Tristan Gray address the media after the game by clicking below. If the YouTube player is not appearing in your browser, click here.