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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

Wrecked at Reckling: Owls swept by LSU and Stanford

Junior infielder Treyton Rank swings against Stanford University. The Owls were swept by Stanford this weekend, marking the 11th straight loss against the Cardinal. Courtesy Maria Lysaker / Rice Athletics

By Diego Palos Rodriguez and Ana Rivera     3/5/24 10:52pm

Reckling Park and the Owls hosted some of the country’s best players this past week, starting with a 16-4 loss against the defending national champions, Louisiana State University, on March 5, followed by a three-game series against Stanford University, ultimately getting swept.

On Wednesday night, No. 2 LSU swiftly built a commanding 9-0 lead over the Owls in the first three innings. The Owls scored three runs in the third inning, with senior infielder Nathan Becker, junior infielder Manny Garza and graduate outfielder Kyte McDonald each notching two hits on the game. Despite their efforts, they faced a significant challenge to close the gap.

The Tigers increased their advantage with two runs in the fifth inning and then further extended their lead by scoring five runs in the seventh. Following their initial three runs, the Owls could only add one more run in the sixth inning, giving LSU a 16-4 victory. 

This game against LSU drew in 4,610 spectators — the largest crowd at Reckling Park since 2016 when Rice defeated No. 3 Texas A&M University 4-3.

The Owls stayed in Houston to face off against Stanford, which the Owls notably defeated in 2003 to win their first and only national championship. Rice, however, wasn’t so lucky this time around. 

The Cardinal started off the first game by getting five runs in six innings while shutting Rice out. The Owls pulled two runs back in the seventh and eighth inning, but another run by Stanford in the eighth inning sealed the game 6-2 for them. 

According to head coach Jose Cruz Jr., the team is still trying to find the best lineup to carry forward.

“I’m just trying to find the most competitive guys I can possibly find to go and make a lineup,” Cruz Jr. said. “I think some of the guys that have played here to start the year did something for me to give someone else a chance. We’re just trying to see who the most competitive guys are and just throw those nine guys out there and see what we can do.”

Saturday’s game was more of the same for the Owls. Stanford took an early lead and continued to keep Rice scoreless all throughout the game. The Cardinal scored all of their eight runs in the first six innings while the Owls were hitless until the fifth inning and scored their only two in the ninth after a two-run home run by senior infielder Pierce Gallo.

In the final game of the series on Sunday, the Cardinal once again got off to first inning lead with two runs, but Rice tied the game quickly in the second inning with a two-run double by junior infielder Treyton Rank. Stanford brought two more runs in the fifth inning, to which Rice responded by scoring one of their own. The two teams were at a stalemate for the rest of the game until the Owls had an opportunity to take the lead at the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded. The fireworks, however, stayed silent that night.

“We had the winning run on base at the bottom of the eighth,” Cruz Jr. said. “Next thing you know, we made a bloop into left center that could have been a really good play [if it was not caught]. That [ball] drops and we’re having a completely different conversation right now.”

The game finished 4-3 in favor of Stanford, sealing the sweep and their 11th straight victory over Rice. 

The Owls stayed at home to face Prairie View A&M University on Tuesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. They travel to Mānoa, Hawaiʻi to face off against the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in a four-game series starting Friday, March 8 at 10:35 p.m. 

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