Rice baseball dropped a midweek game to Texas State on Wednesday, losing catcher Justin Collins to injury early in the contest.
For the second time this season Texas State got the better of Rice, shutting out the Owls again, this time at Reckling Park. The Owls were blanked 1-0 by the Bobcats in the Shriner’s College Classic and fell 5-0 on Wednesday night. The two teams will play once more this season in San Marcos on Tuesday, March 26.
With the first conference series of the season looming against FAU over the weekend, here are the most pressing notes from the loss to Texas State.
1. Justin Collins injury
Justin Collins was hit in the glove hand by the backswing from a Texas State hitter during the first inning. The extent of the injury isn’t known to this point, but Collins was removed from the game immediately. Senior backup Daniel Russell played the remainder of the contest in his place.
When healthy, the Rice lineup was already thin. The quartet of Trei Cruz, Bradley Gneiting, Braden Comeaux and Justin Collins has driven the bulk of the offense to this point of the season. Others have contributed with good games and good series here and there, but the four .300+ hitters have been the key cogs in run production this season.
That’s what makes the injury sustained by Collins on Wednesday night even more problematic. If he’s forced to miss any extended amount of time the production at the plate will take a hit.
2. Slow starts becoming a disturbing trend
Scoring first shouldn’t matter all that much in any given baseball game. Each team has nine innings to outscore their opponent, but for Rice, taking an early lead has proven to be of utmost importance. Rice is 8-2 this season when they score the first run. They’re 0-9 when their opponent scores first.
Momentum is a nebulous concept in sports. Some will say it doesn’t exist, but others swear on the tendency of good fortune to build on itself. For better or worse, the Rice offense has yoyoed back and forth, scoring in droves in one game and going O-fer in the next.
The team took a step forward when they rallied from a 5-1 deficit to top Lamar on Tuesday, but it’s going to take more consistency across the board if the Owls are going to flip the script on this startling statistic.
3. The grind is almost over
Rice beat Prairie View 25-5 on Wednesday, Feb. 27. That marked the first game of an exhaustive three week stretch for Rice in which the Owls were scheduled to play 15 games in 21 days. In addition to three weekend sets, Rice played two midweek games last week and this week. They’ll start conference play on Friday against FAU before ending the three-week run with a Tuesday night contest at Texas A&M.
“We haven’t had enough time to make sure we’re going back to fundamentals,” Bragga shared. He wasn’t making excuses, testifying fervently to the efforts of his team and his coaches to improve on the fly. Still, it’s evident this team needs time to practice. If nothing else, they need some rest.
ON DECK | at FAU (Fri-Sun)
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