Rice downs Aggies to advance to CWS

HOUSTON "This has been a very good clutch team," Graham said. "They play very well for survival. They're as good as any team I've had like that."

The Owls proved that against Sunday, coming from behind in the eighth inning with Adam Zornes' two-run home run to give Rice a 6-5 victory over Texas A&M and a trip to their third straight College World Series.

Rice (47-13) won its super regional with a two-game sweep of the Aggies.

Rick Hague singled to start the Owls' rally. One out later, Zornes hit his 12th home run of the year.

Rice has been erratic at times this season, going two-and-out in the Conference USA Tournament and barely hanging on to beat Texas in the regional last week after committing six errors.

"At the start of the season, I was asked what this team would be like and I said the only thing I knew is it would be entertaining," Graham said. "They have ability but they're unpredictable."

Zornes flied out in the fourth with a man on third. He was facing A&M knuckleballer Travis Starling, who had worked out of a big jam in the seventh inning, when he hit his home run.

"That (fourth inning) was probably the main thing on my mind when I was running around the bases," Zornes said with a smile. "Coach Graham had reminded me of that and I wanted to make up for it."

Zornes knew what to expect from Starling.

"We had scouted Starling and knew he threw a knuckle curve," Zornes said. "With (Owls starter Ryan) Berry, I've seen plenty of that in practice.

"You really can't predict what that pitch will do. The key to hitting it is late-eye contact. I saw it and was lucky to hit it out."

Bryan Price (4-4) went 2 1-3 innings and allowed only a hit while striking out three and walking none to take the win. Bobby Bell pitched the final two innings to earn the save, his third of the year. He allowed only two walks and struck out two. Mike Ojala started and went 3 1-3 innings and allowed five runs on six hits and three walks.

Third baseman Dane Carter drove in two runs and Brodie Greene went 2-for-2 as Big 12 champion Texas A&M ended its season at 46-19.

Starling (8-2) went three innings and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks in the loss. He struck out one.

Kyle Colligan's run-scoring double to left started A&M's scoring in the third inning. One out later, Jose Duran drove in the second run on an infield grounder to make it 2-0.

Rice tied it with a two-run double by Hague in the top of the fourth. After the Aggies regained the lead in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Brodie Green, Dane Carter's two-run double gave A&M a 5-2 lead.

Hague's bad-hop single drove in two more runs to close it to 5-4 in the sixth inning.

It was a repeat of last year's Super regional at the same site when A&M lost two straight to Rice.

"It was a tough hard fought game today," coach Rob Childress said. "We had our opportunities in the third and fourth innings and we didn't get a couple of free runs."

"But it was just a heckuva game and I'm not going to apologize for being one of the last 16 teams alive in the country. This was a very special group of seniors."

"They didn't get a chance to go to Omaha, but they're a huge part of the foundation that has been laid for when we get there," Childress said. "This isn't a one- or two-year deal. We're going to kick that door in at some point, and that will be our goal every single year -- to get to Omaha and be the last team standing."

A&M tried to stretch its lead in the fourth inning with the bases loaded. The Aggies sent the speedy Colligan on an attempt to steal home, but he was cut down by pitcher Matt Langwell.

"Colligan runs 3.2 seconds from third to home," Childress said. "We figured he could make it. It was a bang-bang play. Jeff (Head) made the right call but it was the right call for us too."

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