For the second time in as many nights, Rice Baseball fell to Louisiana at home, failing to suppress the red-hot Ragin’ Cajun offense.
For the second time in as many series, Rice baseball has been swept. The most recent team to break out the brooms against the Owls is Louisiana, who took a Tuesday night contest by the final score of 7-3 before prevailing on Wednesday night, 16-6. Louisiana has now won seven straight against Rice, although Rice leads the all-time series 17-15.
Last Time Out : Rice baseball drops Tuesday night game vs Louisiana
On the field, a similar trend emerged in Wednesday night’s loss, Rice fell behind early then let the game get away from them in the middle innings. Initially leading 1-0 thanks to an RBI double from Austin Bulman, Rice ceded their advantage to the visitors in the second inning, allowing the go-ahead run to score on a wild pitch.
Rice would respond, tying the game at 3-3 thanks to a pair of two-out RBI hits from Jack Riedel and Johnny Hoyle. It would be the last meaningful bit of opportune hitting for the Owls for the remainder of the contest, though. By the time Rice scored next — three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning — the Owls were trailing 15-6.
On the mound, Parker Smith was a bit erratic, but servicable. He was saddled with the loss after pitching 3.1 innings, allowing four earned runs, three walks and two wild pitches. Alex DeLeon, Brandon Deskins and Mark Perkins — all players who had been productive in recent games — were hit around in relief. There was nothing the Owls could do to calm the Louisiana bats.
What it means | Running out of buttons to push
The Rice lineup hasn’t been scoring at a tremendous clip, but they have been making contact at a decent rate. Their Achille’s heal has been clutch hitting, being out-hit with runners in scoring position again on Wednesday night (.500 to .364). But further fielding miscues and pitching woes have helped to render whatever effectiveness the bats have had moot.
Rice pitching has allowed seven runs in six consecutive games. They’ve allowed 13 or more runs in three of those contests. It hasn’t really mattered who was on the mound at any given moment, the collective result has been wanting. At the beginning of the season, head coach Jose Cruz Jr. spoke of finding the select few he could trust to get outs and pitch at a high level. The consistency just hasn’t been there.
At this point, the pitching staff is what the pitching staff is going to be this year. Riding the hot hand as long as they can will be paramount in these last few games as well as showcasing the players they think could be most useful down the road. Wins and losses are losing value. Experience in live-game situations could serve as invaluable building blocks for that future.
ON DECK | vs MTSU (Fri-Sun)
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