The first pitch in Saturday’s scheduled three-game day of the Baton Rouge regional was tossed at 9:04 a.m., but the opening game of the day between Southeastern Louisiana and Rice was never completed.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been in this much rain before,” said Rice coach Wayne Graham, now in his 37th season as a collegiate head coach.
As the sun began to peep through Alex Box Stadium early Saturday morning, thunderstorms tumbled into Baton Rouge, delaying Game 2 of the regional.
Under the darkened sky of thunderstorms, a battle between opposite ends of the coaching spectrum was halted at 11:17 a.m. and was schedule to resume at 6:45 p.m. It is now scheduled to resume at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Graham’s No. 2-seeded Rice Owls (35-22) led No. 3 Southeastern 4-1 after six innings.
Southeastern Louisiana coach Matt Riser, 31, is the youngest coach in the NCAA tournament, opposing Rice’s Graham, 80, as the eldest in the postseason.
“It’s a tough situation,” Riser said. “Mother Nature is always undefeated.”
The loser of the Southeastern (39-19) and Rice game will turn around to play Game 3 only 55 minutes after the completion of Game 2. LSU will face the winner of Game 2, also 55 minutes after Game 3 is completed.
“Both teams are in the same boat,” Riser said. “(Sunday) starts a new day.”
Before the bad weather, Riser said he hoped to move past the first six innings.
“It’s a three-inning game. It is a new game,” Riser said. “Whatever has happened so far, it’s a good thing, sort of like a halftime. We’ve got to go out there and play the second half. We lost the first six innings.”
Rice lefty Blake Fox retired the top of the Lions lineup in order in the top of the first inning — including Jameson Fisher, a redshirt junior from Zachary, who leads the nation in batting average (.437) and on-base percentage at .564.
In the bottom of the second, Sceroler (10-3) got one out, but then Dayne Wunderlich walked and stole second. Grayson Lewis singled, and when Carson Crites made an errant throw, Wunderlich scored and Lewis took second to make it 1-0.
Southeastern’s Brennan Breaud answered in the third inning with a single. He went to second on a wild pitch and took third on Jacob Seward’s grounder. Ryan Byers followed with an RBI double to tie the score.
“That’s a good ballclub we’re playing that can swing the bat,” Graham said.
In the bottom of the fifth, Hunter Kopycinski singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a fielding error by shortstop Breaud that allowed Charlie Warren to reach base and put the Owls up 2-1.
Warren stole second base and one out later moved to third on a wild pitch. Ford Proctor’s RBI single down the right field line scored Warren to make it 3-1. Connor Tekyl’s RBI double off the wall in left center field scored Tristan Gray, who singled after Proctor was caught stealing second.
“Proctor’s been good for us all year,” Graham said. “He’s had a great freshman year. He’s a good player defensively and offensively.”
Graham said he plans to start right-hander Dane Myers for the resumption of Game 2.
“The game, so far, we’re happy with where we are now,” Graham said.
In the sixth inning, Sceroler got one out and gave up a single before he was replaced by right-hander Payton Robinson, whom Riser said will continue pitching Sunday. In 5.1 innings, Sceroler allowed nine hits, four runs, one walk, one hit and tossed three wild pitches.
“We’ve been sitting around at the hotel all day,” Riser said. “We’re glad we have a decision, now, so we can get ready for tomorrow.”