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Rice scores 10 runs in opening day win at Stanford

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Not a lot went wrong for Rice baseball in 10-3 season opening win at Stanford on Friday, the Cardinals first home opener loss in 20 years.

“Opening day, that’s about as good as you are going to get,” Rice coach Wayne Graham said in a post-game video interview. “We hit the ball well, we didn’t make an error and of course we had good pitching. [Those things] will win a lot of ballgames.”

Rice’s ability to score runs was sometimes an issue last season. It took only three batters for the Owls to score its first run of 2014. Keenan Cook had that honor when he crossed home on Skyler Ewing’s single.

Ewing, a junior first baseman from Arlington, was just getting started. He had three hits and knocked in fours runs in the game.

“Skyler has been swinging the bat well all fall and all spring,” Graham said.

Leadoff man Ford Stainback, Cook, John Clay Reeves and John Williamson all had multi-hit games for the No. 15 Owls. In contrast, no players on the No. 25 Cardinals lineup recorded more than one hit. Jordan Stephens and Matt Ditman are largely to thank.

Stephens got the start, allowing three runs on five hits in five innings of work. He left with a 5-3 lead.

“Jordan didn’t have his best stuff but he thought his way through and got a win,” Graham said. “Sometimes you just got to struggle and win, and he did.”

The Owls broke the game open in the top of the sixth. Reeves was hit by pitch, and was bunted to second by Leon Byrd. Shane Hoelscher ripped a double to score Reeves. Williamson came into pitch hit and reached on an error, which allowed Hoelscher to score. Rice led 7-3 at the time. Later in the inning, Cook tripled to bring home Williamson and Stainback.

Ditman took it home from there by striking out just about everyone he faced. The sophomore from Richmond, struck out 10 of 14 batters. He allowed no runs on two hits.

“Matt didn’t even come here as a pitcher,” Graham said. “He came in with no curve ball. He’s worked hard and fought through an injury. He’s the real deal now.”

Rice will look for win No. 2 today in the 3-game series. First pitch is 3 p.m. CST in Palo Alto, Calif. Rice’s home opener is at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday against Texas State.

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