HOUSTON -- Josh Rodriguez homered and drove in five runs
Monday, helping rally Rice to a 9-5 win over Oklahoma for a berth
in the College World Series.
The Owls (55-11) took the deciding game of the best-of-three
Super Regional series and will return to Omaha, Neb., for the first
time since winning the national title in 2003.
The Owls turned a 4-3 deficit into an 8-4 lead with two swings
in the sixth inning. Rodriguez, who had a two-run homer in the
first, put Rice ahead 5-4 with a bases-loaded single, and Joe
Savery followed by crushing a three-run home run just to the right
of the 400-foot sign in center field to make it 8-4.
Rodriguez's sacrifice fly in the seventh scored Rice's final
"Yesterday, I was really impatient at the plate," Rodriguez
said, referring to Rice's 11-5 loss Sunday in the second game of
the series. "I just told myself to sit back, be patient, see your
zone. The past two years, we've come so close. This year, we're a
lot more mature. We didn't buckle under pressure."
The Sooners (45-22) were looking to win an elimination game for
the sixth time in this year's NCAA tournament. Coach Sunny Golloway
and assistant Andrew McGuire were ejected in the pivotal sixth
inning. McGuire was thrown out for arguing balls and strikes, but
Golloway said he never received an explanation for his exit.
"We had a lot of things to overcome today, and we couldn't
overcome them," Golloway said.
Cole St. Clair (6-2) picked up the win in relief, allowing five
hits and three runs with three strikeouts and no walks in 5 1/3
innings. John Brownell (5-1) suffered the loss.
"I've always had that stamina available," St. Clair said. "It
was fun to dig down today and be the pitcher I used to be."
Starting pitchers Ryan Mottern of Oklahoma and Craig Crow of
Rice didn't make it out of the first inning, each allowing two
OU loaded the bases with no outs in the first when leadoff
hitter Chuckie Caufield was hit by a pitch, Russell Raley singled
and Ryan Rohlinger walked. Kevin Smith's sacrifice fly scored the
first run, and Freddy Rodriguez grounded out to bring in Raley for
a 2-0 lead.
Rodriguez's opposite-field home run to right with two outs in
the bottom of the first tied the score.
Oklahoma regained the lead at 3-2 in the third inning on Raley's
leadoff single and a run-scoring double by Smith.
Rice tied it again in the fourth on Aaron Luna's leadoff home
run. Raley answered with a solo homer in the fifth to put OU ahead
4-3, setting up Rice's five-run sixth.
"I knew they could do what they did today," Rice coach Wayne
Graham said. "This is a very strong-minded, character-driven