Rice baseball saw their season end in no-hit fashion, tallying one base runner in their knock out loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA Baseball Tournament.
In their final game of the 2019 season, Rice was no-hit by Southern Miss, falling in Biloxi 6-0. Matt Bragga’s crew knew making it to the Conference USA Baseball Tournament Championship Game from the loser’s bracket was going to be difficult. Bouncing back from an early loss requires depth, toughness and more luck than many teams and coaches would like to admit. To their credit, the Owls fought.
Rice knocked out Louisiana Tech and then took down Marshall, setting up a Saturday morning rematch with Southern Miss. Rice would need two wins over Southern Miss to keep their season alive, but it soon became apparent Rice would first need to focus on getting two hits.
Southern Miss starting pitcher Gabe Shepard was phenomenal. He missed bats and kept Rice off balance with a dynamic fastball. He mowed down the first 15 Rice batters who came to the plate before Justin Collins drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. Shepard held the no-hitter through seven and a third innings before being relieved by Cody Carroll who closed out the eighth. Hunter Stanley shut things down in the ninth, securing the no-no bid.
Shepard struck out 12 and walked one, affording Rice batters little opportunity to generate any scoring opportunities. As Shepard rolled through the order time and time again, the Southern Miss offense gradually pulled away.
The Rice bullpen held tough for a while but was unable to withstand a cavalcade of Southern Miss extra-base hits. The Golden Eagles hit three home runs, all solo shots. They’d add three more scores scattered across the duration of the contest. A 6-0 lead after seven proved overwhelming as Southern Miss breezed through the final two innings to clinch a spot in the conference championship game as Rice saw their season come to a close.
Final Record | 26-33
That’s all folks. There will be plenty to unpack from the Rice baseball 2019 season in the coming days. Rice was projected to finish top four in the conference in the preseason and that’s exactly where they ended.
This was a hot-and-cold baseball team which had some incredible highs and felt the lowest of lows. The Owls will bring back a lot of bullets in 2020 and the future remains bright. 2019 didn’t end how this team would have liked, but coach Matt Bragga’s work is only beginning.
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