Houston final: Preview of Rice-Kansas State

June, 1, 2009
HOUSTON -- Kansas State coach Brad Hill isn't sure how his team will respond to its regional championship game tonight at Reckling Park.

It will be interesting to see how much experience plays a role in tonight's game. The Wildcats are making their first NCAA tournament berth in school history. Rice will be playing for a shot at the NCAA super regionals for the ninth time in the past 11 seasons.

Hill and his players said the Wildcats appeared tentative Sunday night in their 8-0 loss to the Owls that forced Monday's elimination game.

And he's hoping those struggles will serve as inspiration for a better performance in their second shot at wrapping up a trip to the super regionals.

"They are just going to have to make their minds up," Hill said. "They have to walk out there believing they can win a game."

Combating Rice's experience in big games might be his team's biggest challenge, Hill said.

"This team has accomplished a lot of breakthrough things," Hill said. "We've been the first to do this or that. I'm hoping this club will be the one who can do it. But you could see a difference between those who are used to it and our club that wasn't."

The Owls have made three straight trips to the College World Series and five in the past seven seasons. But Rice coach Wayne Graham will be reaching deep in his staff for his starting pitcher.

Junior right-hander Mark Haynes will be making only his third start of the season for the Owls and first since beating Marshall on April 19. He hasn't pitched since May 16.

Kansas State will counter with sophomore left-hander Thomas Rooke, who will be making his first start of his college career. Rooke, who is from nearby Spring, Texas, limited Rice without a hit in one inning of relief last night.

There are some angry black clouds kicking up over the right-field fence and there's a 20 percent chance of rain. Hopefully we can get this game in tonight.

Here are the starting lineups. Kansas State is the visiting team.

Kansas State (43-17-1)

DH Adam Muenster
2B Carter Jurica
LF Nick Martini
1B Justin Bloxom
3B Jason King
SS Drew Biery
RF Jordan Cruz
C Rob Vaughn
CF Dane Yelovich
LHP Thomas Rooke

Rice (42-16)

2B Brock Holt
SS Rick Hague
C Diego Seastrunk
3B Anthony Rendon
CF Steven Sultzbaugh
LF Michael Fuda
RF Chad Mozingo
1B Jimmy Comerota
DH Jeremy Rathjen
RHP Mark Haynes


HP: Mark Chapman
1B: Jack Cox
2B: Dave Savage
3B: Joe Marion

Here are the weather conditions at the first pitch: mostly cloudy skies, 82 degrees, 58 percent relative humidity, winds from the east at 10-14 mph.



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