Wildcats rally to earn split with Rice

HOUSTON, Texas – The sixth-ranked Arizona baseball team earned a series split with eighth-ranked Rice on Wednesday, overcoming a 3-0 deficit en route to an 8-5 victory.

Arizona (14-3) scored two runs in the fourth and another run in the sixth to tie the game at 3, then pulled ahead with two runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth.

Closer Mathew Troupe made things interesting in the home half of the ninth, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks. Troupe’s third walk put the tying run on base and brought Michael Fuda to the plate. But Troupe, who recorded two strikeouts earlier in the inning, was able to strike out Fuda to close the game.

Rice (14-5), which won Tuesday night’s game 5-1, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning off UA starter Vincent Littleman. But Wildcat relievers Konner Wade and Stephen Manthei combined to shutout the Owls over the next five innings by setting down 15-consecutive opposing hitters.

That provided ample time for the Wildcats’ bats awaken. Seth Mejias-Brean and Joey Rickard had three hits apiece and combined for four runs scored, while Mejias-Brean also drove in a pair of runs to pace an 11-hit attack.

With the game tied at 3-3, Mejias-Brean sparked a two-out rally in the top of the eighth. His third hit of the game was a double to the wall in right field, and Trent Gilbert was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Riley Moore followed with an RBI single to right field, and Brandon Dixon pulled a run-scoring single through the left side to give the Wildcats a two-run lead.

Arizona tacked on three much-needed insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning.

The Wildcats open Pac-12 play Friday night, hosting Washington State in the first of a three-game series.