Rice Baseball took two out of three against FIU, punching their ticket to the 2023 Conference USA Tournament at Reckling Park later this week.
THURSDAY | Rice 9 – FIU 7
Parker Smith was not his best in the series opener, allowing six runs (four earned) through 5.1 innings. He fell behind in the first inning, allowing a three-run home run and forcing the Owls to play catch-up, something that wouldn’t take very long at all. Connor Walsh evened the score in the bottom half of the inning and the back-and-forth began.
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Jack Riedel put Rice ahead with a two-run double in the second. FIU answered in the fourth. Both teams added a few more in the middle innings and the teams entered the bottom of the eighth with the score tied 7-7. Drew Holderbach scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch and Walsh delivered an insurance run in that same at bat. Matthew Linskey sat down three in order in the ninth to secure the win.
FRIDAY | Rice 2 – FIU 1
After a slugfest in the opener, runs were at a premium on Friday night in large part because of the stellar pitching of JD McCracken. He delivered a pristine 7.2 innings with six strikeouts allowing just one run and one hit. That lone score came in the first inning and staked FIU to a narrow lead until Drew Holderbach leveled the score with an RBI double in the seventh.
Both teams put up zeros in the eighth and Linskey shut down FIU in the ninth, giving Rice a chance for their first walk-off win in conference play this year. Ben Royo opened the inning with a single then later came around to score on a two-out error by the FIU shortstop.
SATURDAY | FIU 10 – Rice 7
Rice struck first in the series finale but spent much of the afternoon trailing FIU, which took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second and extended their advantage with one run in each of the third and fourth innings, respectively.
Things changed quickly in the fifth, though. Ben Dukes, Ben Royo and Guy Garibay reached picked up RBI hits, propelling the Owls to a 6-4 advantage. FIU caught back up in the sixth and took the lead for good on a three-run home run in the eighth, going on to win 10-7.
THREE FOR THE ROAD
Down to their final weekend, Rice baseball found a way to get the wins they needed to extend their season. The Owls are Conference USA Tournament bound. Here are three takeaways from the Owls’ clutch weekend series win.
1. Best for last
Rice will face DBU in the first round of the conference tournament. Despite being swept by the Patriots earlier this season, Rice led all three games after seven innings. The complete seeding list is as follows:
- Louisiana Tech
- Middle Tennessee
2023 C-USA Baseball Championship Bracket
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) May 20, 2023
ON DECK | 2023 Conference USA Baseball Tournament
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