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Sunday, June 8
Four home runs power Owls past Cougars

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Jeff Niemann got his 16th straight victory and Vincent Sinisi's three-run homer led a four-homer assault as Rice beat Houston 10-2 Sunday to even their Super Regional playoff series at 1-1.

Niemann, who hasn't lost a game since May 8, 2002, survived a shaky first inning when he walked Michael Bourn and allowed consecutive singles by Travis Tully and Hyung Cho, the latter scoring Bourn. He then struck out Cole Bruce, got Matt Farrington on a pop-up and struck out Thans Papavasiliou to end the threat.

Niemann settled in after that and allowed only two more hits and finished seven innings with 12 strikeouts, four hits and four walks. It was the fifth time this season Niemann had 10 or more strikeouts in a game.

With the Owls leading 5-1 in the sixth, Sinisi hit his ninth homer of the year, giving Rice a comfortable lead.

The Owls also got solo homers from Craig Stansberry in the fourth, Paul Janish in the seventh and Enrique Cruz in the eighth. It was Rice's second four-homer game this season. The other was March 29 against San Jose State.

The Owls didn't take long to get started against Brad Sullivan, a first-round pick of the Oakland Athletics in the June baseball draft.

Sullivan hit Chris Kolkhorst to start the first inning and walked Dane Bubela before Sinisi popped out and the runs started coming.

Austin Davis, the Owls' RBI leader in the regular season, doubled over center fielder Bourn's head scoring two runs and Cruz hit a grounder past third baseman Cho for an error, scoring another run for a 3-0 lead.

Sullivan loaded the bases with no outs in the third and escaped by allowing just one run. After Dane Bubela and Sinisi singled and Davis walked, Cruz popped out, Matt Ueckert grounded out, scoring Bubela.

Sullivan pitched four innings, allowed four hits, five runs, four of them earned and he had two walks and two strikeouts.

Davis doubled in the fifth inning but was picked off by shortstop Stuart Musslewhite on a hidden-ball play.

Pinchhitter Greg Buchanan had an RBI single in the eighth for the Cougars.

The winner of Monday's third game of the best-of-three series will advance to the College World Series. Houston would be making its first trip to the CWS since 1967. Rice is seeking a CWS bid for the fourth time in seven years.

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