Cougar Baseball Loses Heartbreaker to Seventh-Ranked Rice

March 6, 2009

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HOUSTON - Rice scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the seventh-ranked Owls defeated Washington State 2-1 at the Academy Sports + Outdoors Rice Classic, Friday.

Senior Matt Way (0-1) took a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning with the Cougars (3-6) on top 1-0. He walked pinch hitter Jess Buenger to open the inning. Jimmy Comerota followed with a ground ball to Shea Vucinich at shortstop, but the Cougar sophomore's throw to second base was errant putting Owls (7-3) at second and third with no one out.

Redshirt-junior Jeremy Johnson came in to relieve Way and retired Chad Mozingo on a soft line drive before intentionally walking Diego Seastrunk to load the bases. All three runners moved up on a passed ball by senior Greg Lagreid and the game was tied 1-1.

Johnson induced a ground ball by Anthony Rendon for the second out, then intentionally walked Rick Hague to load the bases for the second time in the inning. The winning run was forced home when Jeremy Rathjen was hit by a pitch.

Way finished with eight plus innings, two hits, three walks, four strikeouts and was charged with two unearned runs to take the loss.

'Matt Way pitched his tail off and certainly didn't deserve a loss,' WSU Head Coach Donnie Marbut said. 'I feel bad for him and it's a tough loss for our team.'

All six of WSU's losses this season have come against nationally-ranked teams and Friday's was the fourth that occurred in the opponent's last at bat.

The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning when senior Jared Prince singled down the right field line with two outs and came home on freshman Patrick Claussen's double to right center.

Washington State will play Oral Roberts (5-2), which lost 2-1 to Notre Dame in the tournament's other game during day one, Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Pacific.

Senior Matt Way pitched at least eight innings for the fifth time in his last eight starts after failing to pitch more than six innings in his first-nine career starts...freshman Patrick Claussen collected his first-collegiate RBI...Rice extended the nation's longest-current home winning streak to 20 games.

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