With only a few games remaining in the season, Rice baseball has settled in on a starting lineup, one which has brought much-needed consistency to the offense.
Head coach Matt Bragga flip-flopped the lineup on a nightly basis at the beginning of the season. He admitted then he’d rather stick with the same nine guys and not make as many adjustments, but lamented it wouldn’t happen until they were good enough as a team to solidify a starting nine. For him, the end goal will always be consistency. “I think consistency is good in whatever you’re doing, as long as it’s going well,” Bragga affirmed.
With the end of the regular season in view, Bragga’s squad has found those nine. The same position players have started every game of the Owls’ six-game winning streak and two of their three subsequent losses — Braden Comeaux, Bradley Gneiting, Trei Cruz, Andrew Dunlap, Cade Edwards, Justin Collins, Dominic Cox, Brandt Frazier and Aaron Beaulaurier. The lone exception was a Khevin Brewer start at designated hitter in the second half of Friday’s double header against WKU.
That core group, with a few pinch hitters scattered in, has paved the way for the Owls’ longest winning streak of the season. No longer is the weight of the offense resting on any one player’s shoulders. Every night someone different gets a big hit. It took a few months to get here, but the offense is beginning to feel balanced.
“There’s not a lot of options,” Bragga admitted, “so when you find a group of nine you’re very apt to stay with that nine.”
For the most part, that nine has got the job done. They’ve won six of their last nine games with the final game of the WKU series awaiting Sunday. Salvaging one more CUSA win would have a significant on the conference race. Bragga’s mindset remains clear. “We need to do better.” he said. That much is true. Now they have the right pieces in place to do it.
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