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Five-Run First Lifts No. 27 Rice Past Baseball, 9-2

Nick Saathoff had a RBI single for the Crimson (Erik Williams)

HOUSTON, Texas - Rice scored five runs in the first inning to sink the Harvard baseball team, 9-2, Saturday afternoon at Reckling Park.

The Owls used the five-run opening stanza to build a big early lead and added single tallies in four other innings to knock off the Crimson (1-8), who tried to mount a rally late, for the second consecutive day.

Brandon Kregel paced the Harvard offense with two hits. Nick Saathoff added a single and a RBI, and D.J. Link also plated a run. Carlton Bailey and T.J. Laurisch each crossed the plate once, while Matt Sanders threw five innings of relief, allowing just two earned runs to keep Harvard within striking distance.

In the first, Rice's first seven batters reached base. Christian Stringer delivered the big blow with a two-run triple, and the other three runs scored on a single, hit by pitch and walk.

The Owls manufactured a run in the second to make it 6-0, and starting pitcher Jordan Stephens continued to stymy the Harvard offensive attack through the first three innings to maintain the advantage.

The Crimson had a pair of runners reach in both the fourth and fifth with two singles in each inning but failed to plate a run in either inning.

In the sixth, Harvard finally broke through with a run. Mike Martin and Kregel both singled to start the inning, and Ethan Ferreira walked to load the bases with nobody out. Link grounded into a fielder's choice to score the first run and put runners at the corners with one out. It looked like Harvard would tack on more; however, a fly out to center and a strike out ended the threat to keep the Rice advantage at five.

The Owls pushed across a run in the bottom of the frame to push its lead back to six, but the Crimson struck again in the seventh. Bailey singled up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Wineski. He came around to score on a Saathoff single to left field to make it 7-2.

The hosts answered again in the seventh and tacked on one more insurance run in the eighth, while Harvard went quietly in both the eighth and ninth to fall for the second straight night.

Harvard will wrap up the series with Rice Sunday at 2 p.m. before heading to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Monday.