After a win to clinch the Silver Glove Series against the University of Houston on Tuesday, Rice baseball went 1-2 over the weekend against Conference USA-leading University of Southern Mississippi. With the 2-2 week, the Owls continued their recent trend of .500 baseball, going 5-5 in their last 10 games to bring them to 13-25 overall and 4-11 in conference play.
With the season series win over UH, Rice captured the Silver Glove trophy and hometown bragging rights for the first time since 2013 and the 16th time overall. They did so in an exciting fashion.
After a rain delay at the start of the game, Rice and UH played a tight game, with the Cougars taking a 3-2 lead entering the ninth. A single from sophomore shortstop Ford Proctor and a sacrifice bunt from senior first baseman Darryn Sheppard put a runner on second, and junior outfielder Chace Sarchet smacked a two-out, game-tying RBI double to right field. The next batter, junior centerfielder Ryan Chandler, delivered a walk-off single to center.
Three nights later, in the first game of a three-game set against No. 16 Southern Miss, a strong start from freshman Matt Canterino through four innings fell off the rails in the fifth when a bases loaded catcher’s interference call eventually led to two unearned runs. The game remained close until the final two innings, when the Golden Eagles erupted for 10 unanswered runs to bring the final score to 15-4. Despite the loss, Dominic DiCaprio and Darryn Sheppard continued their strong offensive seasons, each going 2 for 4.
In game two of the series the next afternoon, the Owls bounced back in a big way, scoring 11 total runs on 16 hits from nine different players. Led by junior second baseman Tristan Gray, who recorded a four-hit afternoon including three doubles, Rice scored in double digits for just the third time this year and easily cruised to an 11-4 win against the top team in the conference.
Rice got things going early on in the rubber match on Sunday afternoon, scoring a quick four runs in the first inning on RBI singles from senior outfielder Charlie Warren, Proctor and Sheppard. Southern Miss managed a couple runs of its own through the first two innings off of Rice’s former closer, junior pitcher Glenn Otto, but things took a turn for the worse in the top of the third inning when the Golden Eagles took the lead for good on a grand slam that made it 6-4. After giving up runs in four of the next five innings while only mustering another two of their own, the Owls fell 17-6.
Looking forward, with just 18 games left on the season, Rice would need to go 16-2 the rest of the way to finish above .500. But with an upcoming series against Western Kentucky University— the only team in the conference with a worse record than theirs — the Owls have a chance to at least try to get back on track. They’ll need to if they have any hope of making the conference tournament, which only takes the top eight teams. Rice is currently in 11th, three games back of eighth place.