Rice baseball dropped the first game of the Silver Glove Series on Wednesday night, falling to Houston 6-4 at Reckling Park.
Wednesday night’s narrow loss was the latest in a series of tough blows to a Rice baseball program still in search of consistency. Rice held Houston off the board in the first, but allowed the Cougars to score in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. Despite leading 2-1 after two frames, Rice fell behind 5-2 and was unable to rally.
The Rice loss put Houston ahead 1-0 in the battle for the Silver Glove. Rice won the series in 2019.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Matt Bragga has said on multiple occasions he’d prefer to pick one lineup and stick with it. Wednesday was far from that ideal, but that’s what happens when previous lineups fail to get the job done. Freshman catcher Cullen Hannigan got his first career start (and first collegiate hit).
The outfield consisted of Dominic Cox, Antonio Cruz and Aaron Beaulaurier, almost a complete 180 flip from the trio of Beaulaurier, Daniel Hernandez and Bradley Gneiting who started the first game of the Missouri State series. Hernandez did not appear, while Gneiting moved to first base, shifting Austin Bulman to third as Braden Comeaux remained out of the lineup.
Starting Pitching TBD
The midweek starting spots are still up for grabs. First, the Owls are still working to settle in on a weekend rotation that will include Roel Garcia when he’s back to full strength. Beyond that, the Owls haven’t had anyone come in and seize the job or force themselves into the conversation for a Sunday start.
Brandon Deskins got the nod tonight and turned in a serviceable performance. He allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings, one which came on a wild pitch. Looking past that misstep, and considering the lack of proven alternatives, Deskins probably deserves another midweek start at the very least.
Offensive execution continues to be a sore spot
Down 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Rice had a golden opportunity to tie the game. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. They had three opportunities. And they wasted each of them. After Cade Edwards and Trei Cruz had delivered RBI hits to set the table, Austin Bulman, Rodrigo Duluc and Bradley Gneiting struck out in order with runners on second and third.
Not converting with runners in scoring position happens to every team, but it’s happened with far too much regularity with the Owls. There is simply no reason the 3-4-5 hitters in any lineup can’t get the tying run 90 feet with three tries. A bad indiviual at bat happens, but three in a row from the better hitters on the team is a problem. If the approaches in those situations don’t change, it’s going to be hard to trust this team to get hits when the pressure rises even higher.
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