Baseball loses third straight series to open C-USA play
With a win and two losses to Florida Atlantic University (18-8-1, 7-2 Conference-USA) this weekend, Rice baseball fell to 9-21 (2-7 C-USA). Rice is now 3-11 in its last 14 games, with the majority of losses coming from a brutal seven-game losing streak in mid-March.
The Friday night game in Boca Raton, Florida was a low-scoring affair, with Rice freshmen pitchers Matt Canterino and Addison Moss combining for three earned runs and four hits in eight innings. Junior Ryan Chandler and graduate student Darryn Sheppard each had two hits apiece, but the rest of the offense couldn’t not muster enough firepower and Rice fell 3-2 to last year’s regular season conference champions.
In the second game of the series, the Rice bats woke up to 10 hits in route to a 5-4 win. Freshman Brad Gneiting and Chandler each had two hits along with sophomore catcher Dominic Dicaprio, who bumped his season average up to a stellar .356. Junior Tristan Gray connected on his first home run of the season to put the Owls up 4-3 in the sixth, but after Florida Atlantic tied it up, Chandler put Rice ahead for good with a single through the right side in the final inning. Sophomores Zach Esquivel and Kendall Jeffries combined for 6.1 innings of four-run ball, and sophomore Glenn Otto shut out the Falcons over the final innings to record the win.
In the rubber game, junior Dane Myers gave up six runs (three earned) and the offense mustered just five hits. Florida Atlantic put together an all-around dominant performance to defeat Rice 8-2 and prevent the visitors from moving out of the conference cellar.
Despite only scoring two runs in games one and three, the offense, led by Dicaprio (.356), sophomore shortstop Ford Proctor (.333) and Myers (.327), remains the most positive aspect of the floundering team. The defense, on the other hand, still has plenty of room for improvement. The team gives up almost six runs (five earned) a game and owns an dismal 0.959 fielding percentage.
Looking ahead, Rice continues its road trip against the University of Houston (20-7) on Tuesday before returning to Reckling Park for a seven-game home stand. The Owls will have the opportunity to move out of last place when they host a series against Louisiana Tech University (18-10, 2-7 C-USA).
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Jackson Tyner is a senior at Rice with five seasons of Division I sports experience: three years as a quarterback for football and two years as a pitcher for baseball.