TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Ryan Chandler opened the 10th inning with a double to spark a two-run rally, and reliever Austin Orewiler shut down the University of Arizona baseball team in the late stages as 17th-ranked Rice University secured a series-clinching victory in a 6-4 decision Sunday at Hi Corbett Field.
Locked in a 4-4 tie, Chandler doubled down the right field line against Arizona closer Bobby Dalbec to spark the Owls' to the eventual winning runs. Chandler scored on the next play when UA first baseman Sawyer Gieseke fielded Grayson Lewis' bunt, but threw errantly to third base in attempt cut down the lead runner.
With the ball skipping into foul territory down the left field line, Chandler scored the go-ahead run and Lewis scooted up to second. Lewis then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on John Clay Reeves' bouncer through the left side to give the Owls some breathing room.
It was the capper of a sensational day at the plate for Reeves, who finished 5-for-6 with three runs batted in. The catcher batted 8-for-14 over the three games.
Orewiler (W, 1-0), who preserved a tie game in the seventh, closed out the game in the bottom of the 10th. The right-hander gave up a one-out hit to Riley Moore, but was able to induce a pair of ground balls to end the game. He finished with 3.1 shutout innings with three strikeouts and just the one hit allowed.
Rice (5-3) struck for two first-inning runs, just as it had done in the opening two games of the series, and received a steady start from freshman Ricardo Salinas, who allowed only two runs on six hits over 5.2 innings.
The Owls chased Arizona starter Tyger Talley from the game in the fourth, after the righty had allowed four runs – three earned – on nine hits and a walk over 3.1 innings.
Freshman left-hander Cameron Ming was sensational in relief, scattering three hits and shutting out Rice over 3.2 innings.
That bought the Wildcats time to mount a game-tying rally in the seventh.
Reliever Glenn Otto hit Gieseke with a pitch to begin the home half of the seventh. After a pitching change, Justin Behnke bunted Gieseke into scoring position.
Facing reliever Josh Pettitte, Scott Kingery lined a run-scoring single to center. The throw home allowed Kingery to advance to second, and Reeves' throw to back to second base sailed all the way toward the centerfield wall. Kingery raced home for the tying run.
Kevin Newman, who stole home to win Saturday's game, followed with a single of his own before moving to second on a wild pitch.
Pettitte battled Moore in an eight-pitch at-bat before the UA catcher lined out to left field. That set up a pitching change that brought Orewiler into the game.
Orewiler needed only two pitches to coax an inning-ending groundout from Dalbec, and the Wildcats never threatened the rest of the way.
Dalbec (L, 1-1) suffered the loss with the two 10th inning runs, but just one was earned. He otherwise pitched 2.1 innings with two strikeouts, two walks and four hits allowed.
Arizona (6-2) will next be in action Tuesday, Feb. 24, to begin a two-game weekday series with Oakland University. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MST) at Hi Corbett Field.
GAME NOTES: Rice gained early advantages in each game this weekend, jumping out to 2-0 leads all three days. The Owls have now outscored their opponents 14-1 in the opening frame of the first eight games of the season … The Wildcats entered the series with a 10-2 edge in first-inning scoring of their previous five contests … Bobby Dalbec extended his season-opening hitting streak to eight games … Riley Moore has reached base in all eight contests this season and has a 14-game stretch carrying over from last season … Rice out-hit Arizona 43-27. The Owls collected 13 extra base hits and allowed only five such hits over three games … The Owls did commit 10 errors in the series, and UA opponents have totaled 24 miscues over eighth games (.925 fielding percentage) … Scott Kingery continued a torrid start to the season with a 6-for-13 weekend at the plate to raise his batting average to .486 … Moore was 6-for-16 batting with a pair of homers and is now hitting .370 … The Owls gained a one-game edge (3-2) in the brief all-time series.