GREENVILLE, N.C. - If first impressions counted, the University of Memphis baseball team would have cake-walked through its game against regular-season champion Rice Thursday evening in day two of the Conference USA Tournament at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Unfortunately, one big-inning does not a victory make as the Tigers dropped a 7-5 decision to the Owls to fall into the loser's bracket. Trailing 2-0 after a half inning of play, Memphis hammered C-USA Pitcher of the Year Ryne Tacker for five runs on four hits in the home half of the first inning.
Following a two-RBI double off the bat of left fielder Tyler Huelsing off of Rice reliever Matt Langwell, however, the Owls allowed just a pair of hits the rest of the way. Rice chipped away at the 5-2 first-inning deficit with a pair of runs in the second and one in the fourth to tie things up.
With the score knotted at 5-all after seven, Owls got an RBI-single from Danny Lehman and then took advantage of a pair of Tiger miscues to go ahead 7-5 in the eighth.
After coming on in relief of starter Scott McGregor, Dusty Davis was tagged with the tough loss despite giving up just three hits.
Langwell (6-1) mowed the Tigers down through 7.1 innings, striking out nine-five of which were looking. Cole St. Clair closed the door in a perfect ninth to pick up his sixth save of the year.
Memphis will take on the eighth-seed UCF Knights Friday at 3 p.m. in one of two elimination contests.