Fresh off their first series win of the season, Rice baseball dropped its midweek contest to Louisiana that was close through four innings.
Trei Cruz and Austin Bulman opened up the game with back-to-back doubles in the first inning, tying the score at one apiece after starter Ryan Rickett allowed a run in the first inning. That would become the extent of the Owls’ offensive production on the night.
Rice would manage to pull together five hits, paling in comparison to the 13 hits Louisiana accrued in their 10-run win. A game this lopsided has become all-too common this season, but it was the first time an opponent tallied 10 runs at Reckling Park this year.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Foreboding first innings
Rice has allowed at least one run in the first inning in seven of their 11 games this season. Their opponents are sending their best bats to the plate in the first inning. But that’s no reason for the Owls’ starting pitching to be this porous so early in games. Like Rickett tonight, who settled in for his short start after the one-run first inning, Rice starting pitching has been mostly adequate. If they can cruise through the second and third inning, getting three outs to start the game shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Owls can’t afford to be this sloppy
By the time the conference tournament came around, Rice baseball had become one of the better fielding teams in Conference USA. That level of play had held steady since. Entering Tuesday night, Rice had committed one error or less in eight of their 10 games. A pair two-error games were the exceptions.
Rice committed four errors against Louisiana, three of which came in the fifth inning. Three reliable infielders — Cruz, Bulman and Cade Edwards — all allowed free bases to the Cajuns who made the Owls pay. The seven-run fifth inning crushed what had been a promising start.
No rest for the weary
The schedule doesn’t ease up. Rice gets crosstown rival Houston on Wednesday night. Following that they draw Texas Tech for a three-game series on the road and return home for a midweek game against Texas A&M before starting conference play against Marshall.
The road looked tenuous before the Owls’ started playing games. The early results have been hard to process. How much of blame does Rice deserve? How much credit is due to the quality of the competition? As usual, the answer is probably a little bit of both.