Rice baseball hopes to extend their recent hot streak with a series win over FIU who visits Reckling Park this weekend. Here’s everything you need to know.
It’s been a very different week for FIU and Rice baseball. The Owls have won four straight and five of their last six, sweeping Old Dominion on the road last weekend before an emphatic Tuesday night win over Sam Houston State. FIU has been less fortunate, losing eight in a row with a 3-9 record away from home.
Rice will have a real shot to gain ground in Conference USA and regain level footing after an 0-5 start. Here’s everything you need to know for the weekend:
Projected Pitching Matchups
Friday – 7:30 pm: Matt Canterino (2-4, 2.62) vs Logan Allen (3-2, 1.05)
Saturday – 3:00 pm: Evan Kravetz (2-1, 4.82) vs Nick MacDonald (0-3, 3.34)
Sunday – 12:00 pm: Addison Moss (1-1, 9.98) vs Franco Aleman (0-2, 4.24)
Friday night looks like it’s going to be a pitcher’s duel between two of the most trustworthy aces in CUSA. Canterino has been strong, but FIU’s Logan Allen has been near perfect. The sophomore lefty leads the conference in ERA, strikeouts and batting average against. FIU has won five of the last six games he’s started and he’s pitched at least a five inning shutout in each of those wins.
Behind him the options grow more uncertain. Nick McDonald will throw Saturday, but neither team has officially named a Sunday starter yet. After starting Christian Santana against Houston on Wednesday, Franco Aleman is the probable choice.
Out of the bullpen Rice will have to find a way to solve Jan Figueroa. He’s made 13 appearances on the season, tied for second most on the team, but has yet to allow a run. Opposing batters are hitting .129 against him. Angel Tiburcio, Will Saxton and Jose Machado should be in line to see some relief work as well.
Their offensive attack has been as scattered as their pitching staff has been reliable. FIU ranks dead last in CUSA with a .228 batting average and a lowly .367 slugging percentage. Their Friday night ace, Allen, also has the best bat on the team. He holds a .316 average and should be in the mix to see plenty of plate appearances this weekend.
After Allen, the lineup gets thin quickly. Lorenzo Hampton Jr. is the only other FIU player hitting better than .300 (he sports a .302 batting average). The team ranks dead last in the conference in doubles, 10th in triples, but fourth in home runs. That’s going to be the sticking point against Rice pitching. A few base runners plus well timed blasts will be the Panthers’ Plan A approach at the plate.