(Houston-AP) -- Third-ranked Rice downed Hawaii Thursday 9-to-4 in the opening game of their Western Athletic Conference series in Houston. AJ Porfirio and Chris Kolkhorst each batted in three runs for the Owls, which improved to 33-and-8 overall and 15-and-1 in the WAC. Rice hammered out 14 hits to back Steven Herce, who threw his third complete game of the season.
Hawaii fell to 14-and-25 overall and 3-and-10 in the WAC. The Rainbows took a pair of early leads before Herce took over. In the first, the Rainbows scored twice, one run coming on Brent Cook's RBI single and the second on an infield error.
In the bottom of the inning, Kolkhorst hit a pitch from Chris George over the right-field fence to cut the margin in half. An inning later, the Owls tied the game on Dane Bubela's double, a bunt single by Porfirio and Justin Ruchti's double-play ground ball.
Hawaii regained the lead in the third on Gregg Omori's single, a double by Scooter Martines and a wild pitch by Herce. But Hawaii could not hang on. Herce gave up four runs on eight hits, striking out seven. George, the first of three Hawaii pitchers, gave up six runs on nine hits.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APNP-04-18-02 1941HDT