After a 3-6 start, Rice baseball has the chance for a few marquee wins at the Shriner’s Classic. Here’s how the Owls match up with their opponents.
It’s a long season. That’s true for ballclubs who will go on to win 40 games and for those destined to lose 30+. It’s too early to declare Rice bound for either of those groups, but the results at the Shriner’s Classic could push Rice baseball toward one of those two extremes.
With conference play looming, Rice needs to pick up some notable non-conference wins against ranked opponents. They’ll get two chances this weekend against Baylor and TCU. Here’s how Rice stacks up and how each of their opponents looks entering the weekend.
Addison Moss made his season debut Sunday against UC Irvine and didn’t show any noticeable discomfort. If he’s back to 100 percent, or close enough to it, he’d be a prime candidate for an extended relief appearance. He’s as trustworthy of an arm out of the bullpen as the team has right now and will push for a return to the starting rotation soon.
Here’s what the projected starting rotation looks like:
Friday vs Texas State – Matt Canterino (0-1, 3.27)
Saturday vs Baylor – Evan Kravetz (0-1, 3.00)
Sunday vs TCU – Jackson Parthasarathy (1-1, 1.80)
Shortstop Trei Cruz (.385/.478/.795) has been everything the Owls’ could have hoped for and more, but he hasn’t been the only consistent bat. When the offense has been producing, right fielder Bradley Gneiting (.381/.409/.476) has been the table setter.
Entering the Shriner’s Classic, Gneiting leads the team in at bats (42), hits (16) and has struck out just six times, the fewest of any Rice player with at least 20 at bats. Both Rodrigo Duluc (3-for-6, 6 RBI) and Andrew Dunlap (5-for-6, 7 RBI) had massive days against Prairie View A&M. Braden Comeaux has a .471 average over his last four games.
Texas State (5-4)
Last meeting with Rice: Texas State won 6-2 (3/6/2018)
Probable Starter: Nicholas Fraze (1-1, 6.00 ERA)
Hitters to know: Jaxon Williams (.517/.600/.586), John Wulthrich (.370/.486/.630), Colton Moore (.375/.444/.625)
Texas State started off the year at home, hosting Utah, Nevada and No. 24 Missouri State in the Texas State Tournament. The Bobcats took two of three from that trio, pounding Missouri State 10-0 in the final game. The followed that up the following weekend by taking two games against McNeese State and one against Creighton at the Lake Area Classic.
Last meeting with Rice: Baylor won 9-2 (3/3/2014)
Probable Starter: Tyler Thomas (0-0, 5.40)
Hitters to know: Davis Wendzel (.516/.628/.903), Davion Downey (.481/.625/.963), Richard Cunningham (.389/.442/.556)
The No. 15 Baylor Bears haven’t given anyone a reason to doubt them yet. Perfect through eight games, the Bears have mowed through their early competition. Baylor posted series wins over Holy Cross and Cornell plus a midweek win over Dallas Baptist.
Last meeting with Rice: Rice won 7-3 (3/13/2018)
Probable Starter: Brandon Williamson (1-0, 2.08 ERA)
Hitters to know: Johnny Rizer (.429/.467/.714), Jake Guenther (.417/.516/.875), Hunter Wolfe (.375/.542/.438)
TCU has had their rough spots, dropping both of their Friday games so far this season. Unfortunately, the Owls get the Frogs on Sunday. TCU holds the most impressive win of the tournament field, taking a 10-2 decision over No. 1 Vanderbilt in the MLB4 Tournament.