Rice baseball (2-4) fell in three straight games to Louisiana. The Owls had good moments on the mound, but couldn’t keep up with the Cajun’s bats.
THREE FOR THE ROAD | Louisiana wins series 3-0
1. The Bullpen posts another strong showing
The season hasn’t been long, but we’ve seen the same narrative play out more than once. Rice baseball starting pitching surrenders the lead. The offense doesn’t have the juice to catch back up, but the bullpen keeps the team within striking distance until the innings run their course.
That same scenario manifested itself on Friday and Saturday against Louisiana. Dalton Wood and Reed Gallant were terrific. Wood allowed no hits and struck out three in 2.1 innings on Friday. Gallant allowed two hits with one strikeout in 4.1 innings on Saturday. But despite their best efforts, neither factored in a decision on the weekend because the lead had already been lost before they got their chance on the mound.
Sunday’s collective wasn’t as strong, but it did include several faces seeing their first action of the season in a situation where Rice was already trailing.
2. More offense, please
Rice scored three runs in each of their three games against Louisiana. Justin Dunlap, the Owls’ most productive hitter against Houston Baptist, did not play in the series. Among the Owls that did, only four — Braden Comeaux (.364), Justin Long (.333), Cade Edwards (.304) and Bradley Gneiting (.238) — are hitting better than .220 on the season.
Guy Garibay, who made his Rice debut on Friday night, drew three walks and hit a home run. He’s fifth among all Owls with a .385 on-base percentage. Rice is going to need more from incoming transfer Connor Walsh and Hal Hughes at the plate, too.
3. Flipped rotation not working for the Owls
We’ve seen a lot of tremendous pitching performances from the Rice staff so far this season. Unfortunately, that hasn’t extended to their unexpected series-starting pitcher Mitchell Holcomb. Entering the season, Roel Garcia and Blake Brogdon were the sure-fire top two arms in the rotation. Holcomb was the likeliest candidate to pitch on Sundays. He wasn’t supposed to be a Friday night guy.
But the storm and limited availability of others have made Holcomb the man tasked with opening series thus far. By head coach Matt Bragga’s own admission, he hasn’t been at his best. That’s put Rice in early holes.
If everything had gone according to plan, Holcomb still would have been in the rotation, so his struggles so far still would have impacted the team. But there’s something to be said from falling behind in a series so quickly. It changes how pitchers are deployed and how a team responds. Getting Garcia back into the No. 1 spot is a must.
THE PLAY BY PLAY
FRIDAY | Louisiana 7 – Rice 3
Louisiana struck early in the opener. A leadoff home run sparked a three-run, eight-batter first inning against Mitchell Holcomb that put Rice into comeback mode from the start. The Owls were able to equalize with a Connor Walsh home run, but the offense was quiet from that point onward.
Holcomb would allow another two runs before exiting after three innings. Alex DeLeon allowed two more runs in 2.2 innings before Dalton Wood came on and blanked the Cajuns for the final 2.1 innings. By then, it was too late. Rice had just four hits total after the second inning.
SATURDAY | Louisiana 5 – Rice 3
After trading zeroes in the first, Louisiana scratched across a run in the second and the third innings to take a 2-0 lead. Rice had their best opportunity in the fourth, striking for three runs and driving starting pitcher David Christie from the game.
The Owls did not hold the lead for more than a few minutes. A pair of RBI doubles against Rice starter Blake Brogdon put Louisiana in front in the bottom half of the inning. Brogdon would be chased before recording the third out. He was charged with all three runs in the inning as well as the 5-3 loss.
SUNDAY | Louisiana 6 – Rice 3
Rice struck first on Sunday, sneaking a run across on an error in the third inning. That 1-0 lead would hold until Garcia was lifted in the fifth inning for Brandon Deskins. The sophomore didn’t exhibit the same amount of control that he did against Houston Baptist. He was charged with three runs and saddled with the loss.
Including the three allowed by Deskins, the bullpen would collectively concede six runs before Rice baseball found a way back onto the scoreboard.
Garibay came through with his first collegiate home run in the eighth, but the celebration was somewhat muted with teammate Comeaux having been just escorted from the field after being hit by a pitch.
ON DECK | Rice Baseball vs Prairie View A&M (Wed) and Shriner’s College Classic at Minute Maid Park: Sam Houston (Fri), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Sat), Texas State (Sun).
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