As the sun began to peep through Alex Box Stadium early Saturday morning before the expected thunderstorms for Saturday afternoon rolled through ahead of schedule during Game 2 of the Baton Rouge Regional.
Under the darkened sky of incoming thunderstorms, a battle between opposite ends of the coaching spectrum was halted by lightning in the area.
The weather delay began at 11:17 a.m. and both teams adjourned to their team hotels.
Southeastern’s Matt Riser, 31, is the youngest coach in the NCAA tournament, opposing Rice’s Wayne Graham, 80, as the eldest in the postseason.
Even at his advanced age, Graham’s No. 2 Rice Owls bested the No. 3 Southeastern, 4-1, through six innings.
Weird angle, but the tarp is out.— Christian Boutwell (@CBoutwell_TDR) June 4, 2016
Game 3 was expected to begin at 2 p.m. That looks doubtful. pic.twitter.com/Typu0ZVhNZ
LSU announced its game — which was previously scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday — against the winner of Southeastern and Rice will be moved to Sunday without announcing an official time for the first pitch.
The NCAA officials at the Regional said they hope to finish Game 2 and complete Game 3 on Saturday night, LSU said via its official baseball Twitter account.
Rice lefty Blake Fox maintained 87-90 miles per hour on his fastball to begin Saturday’s 9 a.m. game, and retired the top of the Lions lineup in order — including Jameson Fisher, a redshirt junior from Zachary, who leads the nation in both batting average (.437) and on-base percentage at .564.
Lions right-handed pitcher Mac Sceroler (10-3) ousted Rice’s first two batters before Ford Proctor blasted a deep stand-up double off the top of the right center field wall.
Rice’s Grayson Lewis crossed the first score of the game after Carson Crites’ errant throw to first base from second after fielding a ground ball.
Lewis reached second with ease, scoring Dayne Wunderlich after he reached second on his fourth stolen base this season.
Southeastern’s Brennan Breaud answered the following inning with a single. Ryan Byers scored Breaud on a crushed RBI double to right center, equalizing the score, 1-1, in the middle of the third.
The Lions stranded two men on base to end the top of the third.
Rice countered with a pair of singles, but scored no runs, leaving two men on base to end the third after Southeastern’s Jacob Seward one-hopped a throw from center field to force the out at home.
Byers and Rice’s Ryan Chandler sneak a pair of diving catches in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth inning. Both gems were head-first dives as Byers barrelled against the home-team dugout mound to steal an out and Chandler’s in deep center field.
Into the bottom of the fifth, Rice’s Charlie Warren reached first on a fielding error from Breaud at shortstop, scoring Hunter Kopycinski to boost the Owls lead to 2-1.
A wild pitch moved Warren to third after stealing his fifth base this season before Proctor slashed another RBI — a riding single down the right field foul line — to score Warren.
Connor Tekyl followed Proctor by banging an RBI double off of the left-field wall, plating Tristan Gray after a single, then wild pitch moved him to third base. Gray’s score pushed the Owls lead to 4-1 before lightning was detected in the area.
Sceroler entertained the mound to begin the sixth inning, then was replaced by right-hander Payton Robinson. Scheroler faced 26 batters in 5.1 innings, allowed nine hits, four runs, one walk, one hit and tossed three wild pitches.
The game will resume in the top of the seventh inning.
You can reach Christian Boutwell on Twitter @CBoutwell_TDR