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Rice baseball scores 23 times to finish off Purdue sweep

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The 10-run bottom of the first inning turned out to be just the start of Rice’s offensive eruption on Sunday.

The Owls added 3 runs in the fifth inning, 7 more in the sixth inning and, for good measure, tacked on 3 more in the seventh frame to trounce Purdue 23-3 Sunday at Reckling Park. The Owls (6-2) outscored Purdue 35 to 5 in the three-game sweep.

The 23 runs are the most a Rice team has scored since a 24-3 win over Houston in the 2010 Conference USA Tournament. That 2010 Owls squad also had a 26-run outburst against California in March 2010.

However, neither the 2010 and 2014 teams can touch the 1997 Owls, who scored 35 runs in a win against McNeese State and 37 runs in a victory against Cincinnati.

Sunday’s carnage included 20 hits, 10 walks and a grand slam hit by Skyler Ewing against 10 different Boilermaker pitchers. Eleven different Owls crossed the plate while 10 separate Rice players had at least one RBI.

Rice’s top four batting order hitters – Leon Byrd, Shane Hoelscher, Michael Aquino and Skyler Ewing – combined for 9 hits, 11 RBI and 14 runs. No. 6 hitter Ford Stainback went 4 for 6 with 4 runners driven in.

The Owls scored five runs before Purdue had recorded an out. Purdue starter Kyle Wood’s final numbers were six hits, seven earned runs, one walk and zero outs.

Ewing’s grand slam came in the sixth inning. It was the junior first baseman’s third home of the season

The big hitting day gave Rice starter Kevin McCanna a cushion to work with, though he didn’t need much of one. McCanna had a solid outing, giving up three runs on five hits in six innings of work. Caleb Smith pitched two innings of scoreless relief, and with a 20-run lead Austin Orewiler worked a hitless ninth on the hill.

The 23 runs were the most allowed by Purdue since giving up 26 to Minnesota at the 1995 Big Ten Tournament. The Boilermakers are 0-6 this season.

Rice won the first two games against Purdue 3-1 and 9-1. The Owls are back at home Tuesday against Sam Houston State before heading downtown to meet Texas, TCU and Texas Tech at Minute Maid Park next weekend.

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