rhode island 2, rice 1 (10) Bragga’s debut sourswhen Owls falter late

February 16, 2019

A strong night on the mound deteriorated into a 2-1 season-opening loss in coach Matt Bragga’s Rice debut Friday night at Reckling Park.Rhode Island scored the tying run in the ninth inning and what proved to be the winning run in the 10th against the Owls.“We didn’t do good enough offensively,” Bragga said. “They did a good job and we didn’t.”A third-inning single put Rice ahead for much of the season opener.Trei Cruz singled up the middle to drive in Aaron Beaulaurier, who had walked to open the inning, to put Rice on top 1-0.Starting pitcher Matt Canterino, Conference USA’s preseason selection for pitcher of the year, commanded the game through most of outing.Canterino struck out the first two batters he faced and nine overall during his 61/3-inning stint. The Rice junior allowed just three hits and one walk before Kendal Jefferies took over on the mound in the seventh. Jefferies finished with six strikeouts, but he allowed both runs (one earned) on four hits.“We pitched really, really well,” Bragga said. “Canterino did a phenomenal job, Jefferies did a phenomenal job. They gave us chances obviously to win.”But with one out in the ninth, Rhode Island’s Sonny Ulliana doubled to left field with one out to score pinch runner Max Mircovich to tie the game.In the bottom of the ninth, Rice had a chance to avoid extra innings.Freshman Antonio Cruz singled to left-center with one out. After Andrew Dunlap struck out, Cade Edwards doubled to deep right field. As the outfielder gathered the ball, Cruz set his sights on home but was easily thrown out to end the inning.“I think it was a good job by coach (Paul) Janish to send (Cruz),” Bragga said. “I think at that point in time with only having six hits in the game, I think we had to take a chance, make them handle the ball.“Offensively, it was just not good enough.”Rhode Island then pushed across decisive run in the 10th when Kevin Heiss scored on an error.glynn.hill@chron.comtwitter.com/glynn_hill