Rhode Island Beats Miami And Oklahoma State
(With the end of the year fast approaching, we’re counting down some of the top moments from the 2009 college baseball season. We’ll have one a day through New Year’s Eve.)
Rhode Island came into the 2009 season on the heels of winning 31 games in 2008 with veteran experience and big expectations., and Jim Foster’s Rams made a statement on trips to Florida and Oklahoma.
Rhode Island had started the season with a win over 2008 Super Regional team
North Carolina State in Raleigh, NC, but its biggest statements came in games on the home fields of two highly ranked teams in 2009.
Rhody was just 4-2 heading into its March 3 match-up vs. the Miami Hurricanes in Coral Gables, but 67 degree weather proved agreeable to the New England club. The Rams downed the Hurricanes 3-0 thanks to 8 shutout innings from Eric Smith, who scattered three singles vs. the 8th ranked team in the nation. Luke Demko pitched a perfect 9th inning for his first save of the season.
Rob Deveney, Zoey Angulo (a Miami native) and Mike LeBel each had an RBI in what is probably the biggest win in the history of the URI program. Miami was
ranked in five national polls, including 8th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. They were also coming of the program’s 23rd appearance in the College World Series.
“This is just an unbelievable win for us,” Foster would say after the game. “To come out and shut down a team that was ranked No. 1 in the country last year says a lot about our guys. They have been playing so well. I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Smith’s first win of the season earned him national recognition after making Rhode Island the first unranked team to blank Miami on its home field since 2000.
The Rams closed their Florida trip with wins over Fairfield and #25 Ohio State and then headed to Oklahoma.
On March 15 Smith and URI held their ground, but lost 4-3 to 4th ranked Cal State Fullerton in Stillwater and then played host Oklahoma State that same day.
Angulo’s 5th inning two-run home run gave the Rams the boost they needed in a 5-4 win over the 11th ranked Cowboys. The homer put URI up 5-1 at the time, and then they held on after OSU added two runs in the 6th and another in the 9th inning. Demko again finished it to earn his 3rd save.
The wins gave Rhode Island plenty of national attention, but ultimately they were not enough to land a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Rams finished with a 37-20 overall record with a 19-6 mark and 2nd place finish in the Atlantic 10. Dayton won the conference regular season crown, while Xavier earned the A-10’s automatic NCAA berth by winning the conference tournament.
Dan Rhault was named the A-10 Player of the Year after leading the Rams with a .393 average and 57 RBIs. Smith finished the season with a 5-2 record and 3.38 ERA. He became the highest URI player ever taken in the MLB draft when he went 60th overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Other Top Moments Of 2009