Rice baseball couldn’t hold on to the ball in a sloppy midweek loss to Baylor, committing four errors for the first time since the 2020 season.
The starting rotation had been an adventure for Rice baseball in the early outings of the 2022 season. Parker Smith, the Owls’ midweek starter, had delivered the unquestionably best appearance to date when he pitched six scoreless innings in a win against Houston Baptist last Tuesday. He got off to a solid start against Baylor this week, but left the game in the fifth with his team trailing 5-0.
Although he’ll be credited with the loss in the box score, he’s only going to be charged with one earned run. That’s because Rice committed four errors in the contest, fumbling away any chance of toppling an in-state on a beautiful evening at Reckling Park. A leaping grab by Justin Dunlap might have been the only bright spot.
Justin Dunlap wanted that baseball!!! pic.twitter.com/id1tOA9nmK
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) March 3, 2022
The first blow came in the second inning. Following a strikeout and a single, the third batter ripped a ball down the right field line to Guy Garibay. It was fielded cleanly and relayed into the infield where it was mishandled and allowed to roll all the way to the left field wall. One run scored. Smith worked out of the rest of the frame without further damage.
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Both teams swapped zeroes in the third and fourth innings before disaster struck in the fifth. What should have been a one-out lineout to Justin Dunlap bounced off his glove to the fence, putting runners on second and third. What should have been a routine groundout on the following play allowed both runs to score when the ball ricocheted off the glove of Austin Bulman into the outfield.
The next Baylor batter deposited the ball over the left field fence. 5-0. And every single run could be traced back to a booted ball or an off-target throw. Baylor would tack on three more run, two via wild pitches, before the final out. Rice mistakes were the overarching theme of the evening.
What it means
The four errors are the most committed by any Rice baseball team in a single game since March 3, 2020 against Louisiana. They’d only had a pair of three-error games since the 2020 season began, one of which came last week against Houston Baptist. In fact, Rice committed at least one error in every game this season. They’ve played eight.
There were always going to be bumps and bruises as the Owls learned to fly under a new head coach. But several of the players that have committed these infractions are seasoned baseball players who haven’t forgotten how to play. Whatever the reason, the problem has to be addressed. Rice is beating themselves just as much as other teams are winning through pure ability and talent.
ON DECK | Lamar
Rice baseball is in the midst of a 17-game homestand which continues on Friday when Harvard comes to town. The Owls will play a four-game set with the Crimson, including a Saturday doubleheader.
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