Rice baseball is looking for their first conference series win this season. They’ll look to get it done on the road this weekend against Old Dominion.
Both Rice and Old Dominion sport equally unsatisfying 1-5 records through two weeks of Conference USA action. The Monarchs took the series finale against Charlotte in mid-March before they were blasted by Southern Miss last weekend where they were outscored 34-4. Rice dropped a midweek bout with Texas State but broke a five-game CUSA losing streak with a Sunday win over UTSA in the previous game.
Although it’s been a bumpy last few weeks for Old Dominion, their 16 wins ties them with Southern Miss and FAU for the most wins among CUSA teams. Rice has been less fortunate and needs a strong weekend to propel themselves back into the hunt. Here’s everything you need to know for the weekend:
Projected Pitching Matchups
Friday – 5:00 pm: Matt Canterino (1-4, 2.79) vs Nick Pantos (3-1, 2.80)
Saturday – 2:00 pm: Addison Moss (1-1, 6.75) vs Ryne Moore (4-1, 3.27)
Sunday – 10:00 am: Evan Kravetz (1-1, 5.52) vs Morgan Maguire (1-2, 7.28)
Old Dominion Pitching
The Monarchs will try and ride their starting pitching as long as they can this weekend. Like Rice, their bullpen has been a mixed back. Nick Pantos will look to start things off on the right foot on Friday. A JUCO transfer who was expected to compete for a rotation spot, Pantos has become the most trustworthy hurler on the team. His start against Matt Canterino should shape up into quite the pitcher’s duel. Behind him, things get sparse quickly.
Hunter Gregory is the most reliable option out of the pen. He leads the team with 36 strikeouts and has worked a hefty 26 innings so far, three and a third fewer than Maguire who’s made seven starts. Outside of Gregory, Matt Busher can be dangerous when he throws strikes, but his 14 walks make him hard to trust too much in high leverage situations.
Isaiah Nelson and Aaron Holiday have been hard to hit (.200 and .163 batting averages against, respectively). After that, most everyone has had at least a few bad outings. The top end is fairly strong, but this is far from the most dominant relief corps Rice will face in conference play.
Old Dominion Hitting
The pitching staff might be top heavy but the lineup is not. Eight regulars have batting averages of .265 or better. Infielder Bryce Windham leads the way, slashing .367/.495/.418. While his bat is dangerous, what he and the rest of the roster excel at the most is having good at bats. He’s had 79 at bats and struck out just six times. As a team, the Monarchs have the fewest strikeouts in CUSA (143), well below league leader Rice (264).
That’s part of what makes this lineup so intriguing. They don’t have any obvious power hitters — Windham, Vinnie Pasquantino and Andy Garriola are tied with three apiece. Their .281 collective batting average ranks sixth in the conference, as does their 149 runs scored. From outfielder Kyle Battle and infielder Matt Burch at the top of the order to whoever is in the nine-hole on that particular day, the Monarchs can hit.