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Ruchti Delivers Victory for Rice

June 19, 2003|Eric Stephens

OMAHA — With his teammates riveted on every pitch, Rice catcher Justin Ruchti got the one he wanted to give the Owls their biggest victory in the 91-year history of the program.

Ruchti lined a single into center field in the bottom of the ninth inning to bring home pinch-runner Matt Cavanaugh with the winning run in the Owls' 5-4 victory over defending champion Texas (50-20) in the College World Series on Wednesday night at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Rice (56-11) will play the winner of today's game between Stanford and Cal State Fullerton in the best-of-three championship series beginning Saturday night. It is the first time the Owls will play for the national title.

Ruchti saw a series of sliders from closer Huston Street before drilling a 2-and-2 pitch up the middle. Center fielder Joe Ferin appeared to have a play at the plate, but the ball rolled under his glove.

"I knew that was his out pitch," Ruchti said. "I knew he was trying to stay away. You know what his two pitches are and you're pretty much geared up for that side of the plate. He just happened to leave it up and I hit it pretty good."

Rice's Jeff Blackinton reached on an error by second baseman Tim Moss to open the ninth and Cavanaugh was sent in to run for him. Dane Bubela moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt before Ruchti drove in his third run of the game.

-- Eric Stephens

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