Rice baseball has its first winning streak of the season, taking down SHSU at Reckling Park the night following a blowout win over SFA.
Following a 19-run outburst on Tuesday night against SFA, the Rice baseball bats were quick to prove it wasn’t a one-night show. The Owls were kept off the scoreboard in the first inning against Sam Houston on Wednesday before the offense started to heat up in the second frame.
Both Rice and Sam Houston would scratch across single runs in the second before Rice took a decent lead with a three-run fourth highlighted by an RBI triple from Nathan Becker. Sam Houston would sneak back one run in the fourth and another in the fifth, but Rice starter Thomas Burbank was largely able to work around opposing base runners. He finished with 4.2 innings pitched, three runs (two earned) on nine hits and three strikeouts.
Last Time Out : Pair of slams propel Rice baseball over SFA
Burbank would be relieved by Tom Vincent who got Rice out of the fifth with the lead, then the bats went back to work. The offense exploded for five runs, turning a close 4-3 game into a one-sided 9-3 affair. Sam Houston would get two back in the seventh against Alex DeLeon but Rice regained the six-run lead in the bottom of the eighth courtesy of two out RBI singles from Johnny Hole and Pierce Gallo.
DeLeon would bounce back with two strikeouts in the eighth, ceding to closer Matthew Linskey in the ninth. Linskey slammed the door, striking out the side and clinching the 13-5 victory. It marks the first time this season Rice baseball has won back-to-back games.
What it means | Back-to-back-to-back-to-back
Turning baserunners into run has been one of the biggest challenges Rice baseball has faced this season. The Owls have finished close enough in the hit column in many of their games, but a combination of messy fielding and minimal clutch hits have turned those games into uncompetitive contests.
One need to look no further than their 10-1 defeat to Texas Tech in which the Red Raiders collected nine hits to the Owls eight or even their 15-1 loss to Texas in which Texas had 10 hits and Rice had six. Four hits shouldn’t be the difference in 14 runs, but it was more often than not early on in the season. That’s what makes this shift seem so dramatic.
In the fifth inning against SHSU, four consecutive Rice batters collected an RBI. The final two batters did so with two outs, including an RBI double from Dustin Woodcox and an RBI single from Guy Garibay. Rice seemingly couldn’t get hits with runners in scoring position for weeks. On Wednesday they collected them in droves and had 10+ hits in back-to-back games for the first time this year.
It’s not all going to change overnight, but we’ve now got a few games in a row as evidence this team can get those big hits. Next, they’ll focus on doing so consistently.
ON DECK | UAB
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