Bragga era begins with home series triumph over Rhode Island

By John Sullivan

Sophomore Trei Cruz slugged a pair of triples and two home runs, including a grand slam, to spark the Rice baseball team to a 15-3 victory over the University of Rhode Island and help secure new head coach Matt Bragga’s first series win (2-1) Sunday at Reckling Park.

Coach BraggaCruz went 4-for-6 with an eye-opening nine RBIs, the second-most in a game in school history and one off the record set by his father, former All-American and MLB player Jose Cruz Jr., in 1995. Trei’s 14 total bases Sunday tied for the fifth-most in a game in school history and the most by an Owl since All-American Bubba Crosby had 18 at New Mexico in 1998. Six different Owls had two or more hits for a team total of 19, the most in a game since the series finale against Old Dominion last season.

While the hitters were lighting up the scoreboard, senior pitcher Jackson Parthasarathy was in control on the mound. The right-hander from Austin fired a career-high six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit without any walks while posting a new career best with eight strikeouts.

Combined, Rice’s three starting pitchers on the opening weekend — Parthasarathy, Matt Canterino and Evan Kravetz did not allow any runs in a combined 17 1/3 innings of work and gave up just seven hits and two walks while striking out 27.

The Owls’ season-opening homestand continues as three longtime powers — the University of Texas (Feb. 19), University of Arizona (Feb. 20) and University of California, Irvine (Feb. 22-24) visit Reckling Park this week. First pitch Tuesday against the nationally ranked Longhorns is 7 p.m.

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