Rice Baseball lost a compressed weekend series to Louisiana Tech, salvaging a split of a seven-inning doubleheader to avoid a sweep at home.
FRIDAY | LA Tech 6 – Rice 4
Rice starter Parker Smith looked lost in the early portions of the series opener on Friday night. His command was loose and he was hit early and often, facing seven hitters and allowing two runs in the first inning before allowing the first two batters in the second to reach base. Head coach Jose Cruz Jr. stuck with his ace. “All of a sudden, the next thing you know, he throws six innings, right?” Cruz chuckled.
Smith was lifted after 5.2 innings when an error extended an inning he should have escaped from, and eventually did thanks to a quick out from reliever Cristian Cienfuegos. The bats for those two runs back in the second, tying the game on an RBI triple from Ben Royo and a subsequent single by Manny Garza. The score would level again at 4-4 with reliever Matthew Linskey surrendering two solo home runs later before Louisiana Tech tagged Krishna Raj with two runs in the ninth to win it.
SATURDAY AM | LA Tech 5 – Rice 4 (7 inn.)
Brody Drost for Louisiana Tech and Guy Garibay for Rice exchanged solo home runs in the second in a quick but otherwise quiet offensive game through the early innings. At least, that was the case until Rice starter JD McCracken found himself in a jam in the fifth inning. After loading the bases on a single, walk and hit batsman, he gave up the lead on a single to right field and was lifted for Justin Long.
Long was unable to limit the damage, though, and it might have been the difference in the game. Louisiana Tech cleared the bases with a double then tacked on a sac fly. Leading 5-1, Rice got three runs in the seventh but stranded the tying run on first base.
SATURDAY PM | Rice 4 – LA Tech 0 (7 inn.)
Jacob Devenney, rewarded for his pinch-hit RBI single in the early game, drew the start in the finale and came around to score the go-ahead run in the first inning on a double from Aaron Smigelski. Neither team would score in the second, third or fourth innings as Rice starter Tom Vincent delivered one his best outings of the season (3 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs) and the bullpen — specifically Cristian Cienfuegos, Tyler Hamilton, Krishna Raj and Jack Ben-Shoshan — kept Louisiana Tech off the board completely.
Rice picked up insurance in the sixth inning, scoring three runs on a couple of infield singles and walks. Leading 4-0, Ben-Shoshan was able to hang on a close the door, albeit with some drama in the final moments.
THREE FOR THE ROAD
Despite outscoring its opponent this time around, Rice baseball dropped its third consecutive Conference USA series, all by 2-1 margins. Louisiana Tech had the upper hand this weekend. Here are a few takeaways from the series.
ON DECK | vs Lamar (Tues), vs McNeese State (Wed), vs Charlotte (Fri-Sun)
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