Houston Super Regional
Houston (37-30) at No. 5 Rice (53-11)
Reckling Park, Houston, Texas
Series history: Houston leads 63-61
Season history: Rice won 6 of 8
Houston Super Regional schedule
Saturday, June 7
Game 1 - Houston 5, Rice 2
Sunday, June 8
Game 2 - Rice 10, Houston 2
Monday, June 9
Game 3 - Rice 5, Houston 2 (Rice advances to CWS)
NCAA Tournament appearance: 9th
CWS appearances (last): 4 (2003)
2003 Home record: 35-4
Prominent MLB alumni: Lance Berkman, Jose Cruz Jr.
Owl notes (entering Super Regional)
The campuses of Rice and Houston are about four miles apart, and the schools recently created a trophy called The Silver Glove for the winner of the season series. Rice has won it four of the five years, including this season by taking four of the five games.
The Owls have won 10 of the last 12 games against Houston and six straight at Reckling Park.
Wade Townsend has 30 strikeouts in 22 innings against Houston this season and is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA against the Cougars. He is scheduled to start Game 3.
Rice began the season 33-1 and had a 30-game winning streak.
The team relies on pitching and defense. The Owls are second in the nation in fielding (.980) and third in ERA (2.76).
Rice posted shutouts of LSU in both Super Regional games last year.
Jeff Niemann has a national-best 15-0 record and a 1.65 ERA to go with it.
2B Enrique Cruz is the son of Jose Cruz and brother of former Owl Jose Cruz, Jr.
Pitcher Josh Baker's sister is married to another former Owl, Lance Berkman.
NCAA Tournament appearance: 15th
CWS appearances (last): 2 (1967)
Prominent MLB alumni: Ben Weber, Woody Williams
Cougar notes (entering Super Regional)Houston head coach Rayner Noble was an assistant coach at Rice for four years under Wayne Graham. Noble was also a high school teammate of Roger Clemens and a college teammate of Doug Drabek at Houston.
The Cougars are unquestionably a defensive oriented team. They have a team batting average of only .280 and average just 5.2 runs per game. Both of those numbers are the lowest among the 16 remaining teams in the tournament.
RHPs Ryan Wagner and Brad Sullivan made Houston the only school with two players taken in the first round of the MLB draft this week. The Cougars had never had a first-round pick before.
When Sullivan was 10 years old, he was riding in the back seat of a car when an 18-wheeler hit the car and sent him flying over the back seat. His head slammed against a windshield pillar and left him with a severe brain injury. His injuries were so severe that doctors told his parents their son would never walk or see again. In December of 1999, surgeons sliced his scalp open to remove the titanium strips that had been inserted into his head to keep his skull in place. His scar runs from one side of his ear up to the top of his head and then down to the other ear.
Wagner is in position to break a 39-year-old Division I single-season record for strikeouts per nine innings. He currently has 16.7, and the record belongs to George Dugan of Murray State with 16.2 in 1964. Wagner is also tied for second in the nation with 14 saves.
Brad Edwards is a college sports researcher for ESPN.