Rice baseball got hits from eight of nine starters, but bullpen woes ultimately cost them a winnable game against McNeese State.
When Tom Vincent managed to record just four outs during the second-midweek game of the week, things had the potential to go south quickly for a Rice baseball squad with limited pitching depth against a McNeese State team that entered the game 21-11 on the season. Jack Ben-Shoshan limited the damage to just three runs and Blake Brogdon followed with a fantastic 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.
No longer spiraling, it seemed like the pitching staff was going to give this team a chance. Aaron Smigelski got Rice on the board with an RBI double in the third. Guy Garibay and Connor Walsh delivered back-to-back RBI singles in the fifth, driving in three to put Rice ahead 4-3. The Owls had battled back.
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Matthew Linskey surrendered the lead in the top of the sixth, but Ben Royo took it right back in the bottom of the frame. Tyler Hamilton got Rice to the ninth up by two, but Garret Zaskoda scuttled the save, allowing three runs in the ninth. The Owls would get the tying run to third base but Walsh’s last-ditch liner fell a few shy of the fence, a loud fly out to end a disappointing game.
What it means | Bullpen Roulette
The lack of depth on the pitching side has been an issue for Rice baseball all year and it reared its ugly head again on Wednesday. Of the seven pitchers Rice called upon in the game, Vincent, Linskey and Zaskoda each had bad outings. Mark Perkins, the seventh arm, was only called upon after Zaskoda blew a two-run lead in the ninth.
It wouldn’t be fair to expect every reliever to bring his A-game on every night, particularly not in a midweek game when teams are typically reaching further down their staff. Still, having a fifty-fifty chance of a disastrous inning won’t work either.
The Owls might have to seriously consider changing their strategy on the mound. If Brogdon is dealing through 2.2 innings, leave him in. If Tyler Hamilton has allowed one hit in two innings, leave him in. The alternative is spinning the wheel again and the odds aren’t looking very good right now.
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