Five Run Sixth Carries @UofMBaseball Over No. 17 Rice 6-3
May 10, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas- Five runs in the sixth were more than enough behind Sam Moll as Memphis (31-19, 13-9) topped No. 17 Rice (32-16, 11-8) in the Conference USA series opener at Reckling Park Friday.
Moll faced trouble in the first as a walk and stolen base put a runner on second. The junior southpaw allowed three hits over seven and two-thirds innings and two runs. Moll walked three and struck out seven as he picked up his eighth win on the year. In the 8th, a leadoff single and a two out walk forced the Tigers to the bullpen. Michael Aquino stepped in and ripped a three-run home run to make it 6-3 with two outs in the inning.
Reliever Clayton Gant allowed the home run and a single in the eighth, but he forced a pop fly to the third hitter he faced to end the eighth. Jonathan Van Eaton took over for the ninth and issued a leadoff walk, but Van Eaton sat down the next hitter with a called third strike. A high chopper got the second out, but the runner advanced to second before a wild pitch put the runner on third. A fly out to leftfield ended the game as Van Eaton added to his single-season record save total with his 11th.
A one-out walk for the second-straight inning sparked the Tigers to their first scoring opportunity of the night. Colton Simbeck took the one out walk and Austin Hatfield reached on a bunt single, but the throw to first resulted in an error allowing Simbeck to move to third. With runners on the corners and one out, Zach Willis bunted down the first base line, but the Owls tagged out Simbeck at the plate. Hatfield later stole third, but the Tigers couldn't break into the score column leaving runners at the corners to end the inning.
The Tigers came through in the sixth as the U of M sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs. A leadoff walk to Willis followed by a single to right field by Ethan Gross put Tigers on the corners with no outs. Gross was down two strikes in his at-bat and Carter White fell behind as well, but White singled through the right side to get the Tigers on the board. A wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third and a passed ball on a third strike to Tucker Tubbs scored another. Rice starter Austin Kubitza issued his fourth walk of the evening to load the bases and Drew Griffin reached on an infield single to score the Tigers second run, but Keaton Aldridge broke the game open with a two-run single back up the middle.
Memphis tacked on a run in the seventh to grab the 6-0 advantage. Willis worked a leadoff walk for the second-straight inning to get the frame going for the Tigers. Gross followed with a single to right and the ball was misplayed allowing Willis to advance to third. After Gross was caught stealing at second, Willis was able to score on a wild pitch to make it 6-0.
With seven strikeouts on the night, Moll moves to sixth on the single-season strikeouts list with 93. Moll now has 200 career strikeouts, the eighth player in program history to reach that milestone. Gross and Griffin paced the Tigers offense with three hits each on the night. The Tigers improved to 23-2 on the season when scoring five or more runs.
The Tigers square off with Rice in game two of the series on Saturday at 2 p.m.