Rice baseball returns to Reckling Park for a pre-Easter series against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Here’s everything you need to know for the games.
The see-saw ride of the Rice baseball season marches on as Rice returns home. Middle Tennessee is a few spots above Rice in the conference standings, but still within reach if the Owls can win a few this weekend.
Middle Tennessee has won each of their last two CUSA series, posting big run totals against Western Kentucky and UAB. Here’s how the Blue Raiders will line up against Rice:
Projected Pitching Matchups
Thursday – 6:30 pm: Matt Canterino (4-4, 3.32) vs Carson Lester (1-3, 4.75)
Friday – 6:30 pm: Evan Kravetz (2-2, 4.78) vs Peyton Wigginton (4-1, 4.45)
Saturday – 12:00 pm: Jackson Parthasarathy (3-6, 4.57) vs David Zoz (2-2, 3.53)
Much like Rice, Middle Tennessee has a handful of trustworthy arms and a few less-reliable options who have shown flashes. The starting rotation is solid, led by Peyton Wigginton’s 62 strikeouts, a mark comparable to Rice ace Matt Canterino’s 66 Ks. He’s joined by Carson Lester and most likely David Zoz, the latter of the two has spent some time in the bullpen this season.
As for the bullpen, Scheldon Paulk has a team most 18 appearances. Batters are hitting .268 against him this season and struggling to make hard contact. Tyler Holcombe has been given a lot of innings, but has allowed at least one run in each of his last 11 appearances. Josh Young has been slightly more effective, throwing at least one inning without allowing a run in three of his last four relief appearances.
The Blue Raider lineup isn’t one that hits for average, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch. MTSU’s .257 batting average is second-to-worst in CUSA so it’s not too surprising they’ll bring just two regulars with averages above .300. Aaron Antonini and Darien Prewett barely eclipse that threshold. Each enters the weekend hitting .301.
Behind those two, Blake Benefield might be the most dangerous hitter. He leads the team with 18 extra base hits, including eight home runs. His issue has been strikeouts, 45 this season, compared to six walks. He’s one of four Blue Raiders with 35 or more whiffs this year. This is a team that makes their hay at the top half of the lineup.
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