Rice baseball took an early lead, but couldn’t hold on dropping the second game of the Silver Glove Series to Houston on Wednesday night.
A hot start from the Rice bats wouldn’t be enough to secure their second win over Houston this season and clinch the Silver Glove Series.
Things started off on the right track. Bradley Gneiting got things going with a double to left center. He was quickly driven in by Trei Cruz to give Rice the 1-0 lead. Next, Andrew Dunlap was hit by the pitch for a team-leading 17th time, setting up Cade Edwards for an RBI single to extend the Rice lead to 2-0.
Houston would tie the game up in the seventh with a two-out double down the right field line. The score remained 2-2 entering extra innings before disaster struck in the 10th. Jackson Tyner loaded the bases and Ben Schragger allowed three runs on two walks and a hit batsman. Two more relievers would try their hand, but the game was quickly out of hand. Rice was shut out in the home half of the inning, dropping the game by a final score of 8-2.
1. Defense moving from deficit to asset
Sloppy play in the field was a significant contributing factor to the Owls rough start to the season. Rice wasn’t able to string together two error-free games together until March 22 and March 23, two games into conference play. They haven’t been perfect in the field since then, but the Owls had 11 multi-error games before that juncture and have reached that mark six times since.
Not only are they not making mistakes, but players across the diamond are also stepping up to make big plays. Gneiting made a nifty save on the track in right field in the fourth and Brandt Frazier snagged a missile sent his direction in the fifth. Rice committed no errors in 10 innings.
2. Bordwine’s best
The chances of broaching the weekend rotation this season are slim to none, but Rice is going to need all the arms they can find if they want to make a run through the CUSA Tournament and vie for NCAA Tournament slot. Using midweek games like Wednesday’s clash with the Cougars to identify those extra weapons is a must. Bordwine rose to the occasion and could write his name into lineup cards more often moving forward.
Bordwine tied a career-long set earlier this season against Prairie View A&M with five innings pitched. He allowed one hit, struck out one and walked two. He might not be as dominant as some of the other arms Rice can turn to in a pinch, but having one more reliable option is always a good thing.
3. Failing to clinch the Silver Glove Series now is a missed opportunity
When Rice was in their heyday, the Silver Glove seldom left South Main. Rice won the series every season from 2001 to 2013. As far as baseball was concerned, the Owls ruled the city of Houston. A win on Wednesday would have given the Owls a 3-3 split with the Cougars over the last six seasons. Instead, they’ll get one more chance in the rubber game of the series, held later this season at Constellation Field in Sugar Land.
Winning rivalry games is an important step in restoring the program to its historic roots. Rice has already accrued wins over in-state powers TCU and Baylor. Those are proof of a strong foundation being built by Bragga during his first campaign at Rice. There’s still more to be done.