Fresno State defeats Rice 17-5

June 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many are wondering how it is the lowest seeded team to ever reach the College World Series, crushed the former national champs Sunday in their World Series opener.Danny Muno, Alan Ahmady and Jordan Ribera launched three-run homers and Fresno State's amazing postseason run continued with a stunning 17-5 victory over Rice in the College World Series.

The Bulldogs, the first No. 4 regional seed to make it to Omaha, broke open Sunday's game against their one-time Western Athletic Conference nemesis with a seven-run fourth inning.

They didn't stop there, rolling up the highest number of runs allowed by Rice this season on their way to their 12th win in 14 games.

Fresno (43-29) will play Tuesday night against North Carolina. Rice (47-14) meets LSU that afternoon.

Rice starter Ryan Berry (8-5) struggled in the Owls' CWS opener for the second straight year, lasting just 3 1-3 innings. The six guys who followed him didn't fare much better.

By the end, Fresno had scored the most runs in a CWS game since Tennessee beat Georgia 19-12 in 2001.

The Bulldogs surely enjoyed it. Rice won nine straight WAC championships before leaving for Conference USA in 2006, and the Owls had won 15 of the last 23 meetings with the Bulldogs. With Rice gone, Fresno has won three WAC titles in a row, and coach Mike Batesole lamented before the game that he had figured his days of battling against the Owls were over.

Batesole had no worries Sunday. On college baseball's biggest stage, the day belonged to Fresno.

Muno's two-run single and Gavin Hedstrom's two-run double keyed a four-run second inning.

Eleven men went to the plate in the seven-run fourth, with Muno and Ahmedy connecting for their three-run homers. For Muno, who finished with five RBIs, it was his first homer in 32 games and third of the year. For Ahmedy, it was his 13th.

Ribera's homer came in the five-run sixth, and the lead grew to 16-1.

Tommy Mendonca hit the Bulldogs' fourth homer of the game in the eighth inning, his team-leading 16th.

Fresno's big offensive day came against a Rice pitching staff that ranked fifth nationally with a 3.63 ERA and had given up just 38 homers in 60 games.

Fresno starter Justin Wilson (8-5) was solid, allowing eight hits and two runs over seven innings.

Rice's Berry left with one out in the fourth after Ahmedy's homer gave the Bulldogs a 9-0 lead. He allowed seven hits and walked three. Only five of the nine runs were earned.

Berry went just 2 2-3 innings in Rice's first CWS game last year, but the outcome was different. The Owls overcame a six-run deficit in the late innings to beat Louisville 15-10.

There would be no comeback this time.


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