Rice baseball missed an opportunity, falling to Texas A&M in a midweek contest before returning to conference play against UTSA over the weekend.
Kel Bordwine got the start in Rice’s midweek bout with fellow lone star power Texas A&M. On a night when no pitcher went three innings for either side, Borwdine’s early exit proved to be troublesome. He left after 1.1 innings, allowing four runs on four hits with two walks. He wasn’t as locked in as he’d been in recent starts, putting Rice behind the eight ball on the road.
Rice would rally with a run in the third, but a three spot from Texas A&M in the fifth gave the Aggies a hefty 7-1 lead. An Andrew Dunlap two-run home run in the seventh was all the offense Rice had left, falling 8-3.
1. Garrett Gayle is back
The Rice bullpen got off to a rough start, but perhaps no pitcher’s beginnings were more confusing than Gayle’s. The stuff was always good, but the command had seemingly vanished. Gayle walked seven batters over his first 7.2 innings. Since his appearance against Oklahoma, he’s now thrown 8.1 innings, walking just two and striking out eight.
He was almost perfect out of the pen against Texas A&M. On a night when the bullpen got a fair amount of work from different relievers, he was the only man to hold the Aggies hitless while striking out at least one batter.
2. Loss to Texas A&M a missed opportunity
Losing to a ranked team in a midweek game on the road isn’t going to spoil the season for Rice. Still, the woulda-coulda-shoulda factor of Tuesday’s defeat could have repercussions down the line. Rice owns wins over ranked programs TCU and Baylor. Adding Texas A&M to that list would have given Rice a trifecta of big wins over power programs to bolster their case for postseason play.
When it comes to building a resume, non-conference are important. Texas A&M was one of this squad’s last marquee games outside of Conference USA play. Dropping this game in the fashion they did has to be a bit disappointing.
3. Can this team bounce back?
It’s been a hot and cold season for Rice. Rice won two of three, then they dropped five of six. Then they picked up their big wins over Baylor and TCU and won for games in seven days. Now they’ve lost four out of their last five. In the obvious downswing of their streaky spring, can this team right the ship?
When it looked like this team might be headed down a forgettable path they bounced back with a pair of marquee wins. They don’t have a ranked team on their schedule for some time, so it’s time to get back to the basics and take care of business in conference play.