The No. 13 Rice Owls jumped out to the early lead in the second inning but could not stop the offensive onslaught of the North Carolina Tar Heels as they dropped their first game of the Astros Foundation College Classic 2-1 in front of hundreds of die-hard baseball fans at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The Owls scored on a sacrifice bunt by Leon Byrd to advance Michael Aquino from third base.
They held their lead until the seventh inning when Rice starting pitcher Austin Kubitza unleashed a wild pitch; which allowed the Tar Heels to tie the score when Mike Zorn scored from third base.
North Carolina scored an insurance run the eighth inning off another wild pitch when Zech Lemond lost control of the ball; allowing Chaz Frank to also score from third.
Chris McCue, pitching 2/3 of an inning in relief got the win; his second of the season, while Luis Paula was credited with his first save of 2013.
Lemond, who pitched 2.1 innings in relief, was the losing pitcher.
Kubitza pitched 6.2 innings for the Owls, facing 28 batters and striking out nine. He gave up one earned run on four hits and capped his ERA at 0.46.
The Owls will next face Texas A&M on Saturday with a 7 p.m. start while North Carolina will face California in the 12 noon match up.