The Rice baseball kicks off conference play this weekend with a four-game home series against UTSA. Here’s how the Owls stack up with the Roadrunners.
Rice baseball enters their first Conference USA series with momentum, courtesy of head coach Matt Bragga’s first win over Texas A&M since his arrival two seasons ago. Their non-conference slate gives way this week to the first of two four-game series against UTSA. The Owls will host this time around with the Roadrunners returning the favor in a few weeks.
How each team fared this week
Rice baseball (11-9) took their weekend series against Southern, wining two of three. Then they hit the road to play Texas A&M in a midweek game, which they won 2-1. Altogether, Rice enters this series as winners of three of their last four and five of their last seven.
UTSA (8-7) swept Texas A&M Corpus Christi last weekend, snapping a five-game losing streak. The Roadrunners have played seven in a row away from home entering their weekend tilt with the Owls.
Friday | Blake Brogdon (2-2, 5.47)
Saturday 1 | Mitchell Holcomb (3-1, 4.78)
Saturday 2 | Brandon Deskins (1-2, 3.97)
Sunday | TBD
Luke Malone is the probable Friday night guy. He owns a 3.66 ERA and has failed to get out of the fourth inning in two of his last four starts. If he does get into trouble, expect UTSA to turn to folks like John Chomko, Daniel Garza, Reece Easterling and Simon Miller out of the bullpen.
This lineup can hit. UTSA has only played 15 games so far, the second-fewest among C-USA teams, but they’re near the top of the stat sheet in most of the key offensive metrics. They lead the conference in batting average (.294) and on-base percentage (.389) and they’re third in slugging percentage (.462).
First baseman Griffin Paxton has 23 hits in 15 games, nine of which have gone for extra bases. He, along with reigning C-USA hitter of the week Nick Thornquist and two other Roadrunners have three or more home runs. The Rice pitching staff is going to have its hands full.