Rice Baseball was competitive early, but couldn’t hold on in their first of two midweek games against Louisiana on Tuesday night.
Rice baseball entered their first of two midweek games against Louisiana looking for some positive vibes and fresh momentum after four consecutive losses. Things didn’t get off to a good start as the Owls committed an error on the first play of the game, eventually learned to a pair of runs for the visiting Ragin’ Cajuns.
Although it was an inauspicious start, Rice bounced back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning and would go on to take the lead in the third thanks to RBI hits from Nathan Becker and Manny Garza. Rather than fold, Rice quickly responded and took the lead.
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That score would hold for the next several innings until Louisiana broke through. With the scored tied in the seventh, the Owls would call upon closer Matthew Linskey, who allowed the go-ahead single — the run charged to Christian Cienfuegos. Linskey would be charged with three runs of his own in the eighth, an uncharacteristically ineffective performance for one of the most consistent players on the roster.
Trailing 7-3, Rice was unable to answer. Louisiana would hold Rice off the scoreboard for the final six innings.
What it means | More missed opportunities
Louisiana outhit Rice 15-8, but the run differential was slimmer, just four. At least in part, that difference can be traced back to how well each team hit in critical run scoring opportunities. Louisiana hit .364 with two outs, .435 with runners on base and .400 with runners in scoring position.
Altogether they hit .385 for the duration of the game, meaning the Ragin’ Cajuns were more productive in the key moments than they were on average throughout the course of the game.
Rice didn’t fair nearly as well in those metrics. The Owls hit .235 overall for the game, .222 with two outs, .167 with runners on and .214 with runners in scoring position. Collectively, Rice was better on average when there was no pressure to drive anyone in.
Rice wasn’t “clutch” on Tuesday. Louisiana was. Louisiana won. Converting scoring opportunities has been a challenge for the Owls all season. Tuesday served as a reminder the nagging problem hasn’t been cleaned up yet as the season begins to wind down.
ON DECK | vs Louisiana (Wed), vs MTSU (Fri-Sun)
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