HOUSTON, TX --- Leon Byrd's two-out, three-run double in the first inning keyed the 4-1 victory for the 18th ranked Rice Owls against Old Dominion in the innaugural Conference USA Baseball contest for the Monarchs Friday night in Reckling Park.
ODU is now 8-5 overall and 0-1 in C-USA. Rice is 9-5 overall and 1-0 in C-USA.
In the bottom of the first inning Michael Aquino singled with one out. John Clay Reeves and Trevor Teyki walked with two outs setting the stage for Byrd who hit a 1-0 pitch to left for the three-run double which cleared the bases.
ODU got on the board in the fifth as thirdbaseman Jordan Negrini led off with a walk, followed by a walk to Taylor Ostrich. Mike Perez singled to right to load the bases and Negrini would score on a passed ball, but Rice starter Zech Lemond pitched out of the jam.
The Rice Owls added a fourth run in the bottom of the fifth on and RBI single by Skyler Ewing which brought home Keenan Cook.
ODU starter Ryan Yarbrough pitched five innings giving up four runs with four walks and four strikeouts. Rice starter Zech Lemond pitched 6.2 innings allowing two hits, three walks and struckout 10. Byrd led Rice with three hits on the night.
Rice righthander reliever Mike Ditman pitched 2.1 innings allowing two hits and striking out three.
PJ Higgins, Negrini, Ostrich, Perez and Tyler Urps each had a hit for the Monarchs.The two teams will play a doubleheader Sunday beginning at 11 am ET.
ODU 000 010 000=1-5-0 Rice 300 010 00x=4-7-0
ODU-Yarbrough, B. Harris(6) and Perez Rice-Lemond, Orewiler (7), Ditman (7) and Reeves