Pitching fans, look away. Rice Baseball and crosstown rival Houston combined for 32 hits and 27 runs in an offense-heavy midweek matchup that went to the Cougars.
There were zero runs scored by either team in the first inning at Schroeder Park on Tuesday night. That would prove to be the only frame of split zeros between Rice baseball and Houston in a raucous midweek affair that featured plenty of runs and not as much quality pitching.
Rice starter Garret Zaskoda went 1.2 innings, surrendering two runs on three hits before being lifted. His counterpart, Houston starter Graysen Drezek made it 2.1 innings but was tagged for four runs on four hits. Those would prove to be among the longer relief stints for either side in a game that featured 14 pitchers.
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Despite the back-and-forth, Rice looked to have positioned themselves well with a three-run sixth inning that followed a three-run fifth. The Owls led 11-5 going into the bottom of the inning but were outscored 9-2 for the remainder of the game. Houston walked it off in the bottom of the ninth, breaking a 13-13 tie at the time.
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Over the course of the last three games, Rice baseball has run into the realities that accompany having a revolving door at the back end of the rotation. Not having anyone nailed down to a particular role does give flexibility, but it also produces inherent challenges like what the Owls encountered on Tuesday night. No matter what button the staff pressed, outs wouldn’t come. Once an elite closer, Matthew Linskey was hit hard, too.
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Midweek games against pitting teams with developing pitching staffs frequently feature lots of runs, that’s part of the game. Blowing six runs leads, though, that’ll sting regardless of how realistic your pitching expectations are for any individual contest. Houston scored in eight of nine innings. It’s hard to win any game where an opponent is that productive at the plate.
On the bright side, it was nice to see Paul Smith, Aaron Smigelski, Ben Royo, Manny Garza and Jack Riedel each deliver a multi-hit game. If the pitching staff isn’t going to be dominant, having healthy bats matters.
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