Tourney primer: Rice Owls

June, 2, 2010
Record: 38-21, 20-8 Conference USA, 8-2 last 10

Beat: Cal (2X: 26-11, 7-4), San Diego (9-8), Southern Miss (2X: 10-2, 21-14), Texas Tech (3-2), TCU (5-4), Texas State (2X: 5-0, 16-2), Houston (6X: 8-2, Series sweep 25-9 combined score, 15-5, 24-3)

Lost to: Cal (2X: 8-6, 6-4) San Diego (2X: 6-4, 6-5), Southern Miss (2X: 11-10, 7-4), Stanford (Series sweep, 27-15), Texas (2X: 2-1, 5-1), Texas A&M (7-1), Lamar (13-7)

Key players:

Sophomore 3B Anthony Rendon -- .393, leads team in runs (79), home runs (23), slugging percentage (.787), walks (62) and RBIs (78), 83 hits (second on team), has only struck out 21 times

Senior C Diego Seastrunk -- .377, 43 runs, 63 hits, 49 RBIs, 32 walks, .475 on-base percentage, only 17 walks

Junior SS Rick Hague -- .352, 69 runs, 86 hits (leads team), 20 doubles (leads team), 14 home runs (second) but has 50 strikeouts to 28 walks and a team-leading 23 errors (.928 fielding percentage)

Starting rotation:

Senior RHP Jared Rogers -- 8-1, 4.10 ERA, 13 starts, two complete games, allowed 89 hits in 79 IP, 48 strikeouts to just 12 walks

Junior RHP Boogie Anagnostou -- 3-4, 4.18 ERA, eight starts, 64 hits in 60 1/3 IP, has walked one more than he's struck out (25 to 24)

Sophomore LHP Taylor Wall -- 5-5, 4.65 ERA, 14 starts, 75 hits in 81.1 IP, 58 srtikeouts to 30 walks

Senior RHP Mike Ojala -- 5-2, 3.80, nine starts, 51 strikeouts to 19 walks, .206 opponent's batting average

Most used relievers:

Junior LHP Abe Gonzales -- 4-3, 3.23 ERA, 26 appearances and two starts, 56 hits allowed in 53 IP, 31 strikeouts to 14 walks

Freshman RHP Tyler Duffy -- 2-2, 5.21 ERA, 25 appearances, 42 hits in 38 IP, 41 strikeouts to 15 walks

Freshman RHP J.T. Chargois -- 3-2, 3.29 ERA, 15 appearances and two starts, 33 hits in 27 1/3 IP, 14 strikeouts to 4 walks, but .306 opponent's batting average

Junior LHP Doug Simmons -- 4-0, 2.66 ERA, 20 appearances, 12 hits in 20 1/3 IP, .169 opponent's batting average but 17 walks to 14 strikeouts

Will move on if:

Texas can't escape from its funk. Rice isn't as strong as years' past but they can take advantage of a poor Longhorn performance to claim the regional. The Owls are a deep team from a relief standpoint, and if Texas allows them a chance with an early loss, Rice may have an advantage in the later innings of crucial games. But they can expect to lose the starting pitching matchups, unless their starters step up in a big way. The Owls also have a balanced offense led by Rendon, but with many players who can hit. Shutting down or walking one won't guarantee a win. Texas is still a clear favorite for the region, but the Longhorns will have sturdy competition with Rice and the Ragin' Cajuns. Even with one loss, Texas may have an advantage over Rice and Louisiana-Lafayette, matchup wise. However, if Rice finds its way into a Sunday or Monday game with a Super Regional bid on the line, it should be appointment listening/following on a computer.

Could be trouble if:

They catch a hot opposing pitcher. The three top seeds in this region can all score runs right there with the best in the country. What will decide the games is run prevention. Rice coach Wayne Graham will need to coordinate his pitchers perfectly if the Owls have a chance to move on. They can't out-muscle Texas, but that's not to say intangibles (the Longhorns' performance in the Big 12 tourney, Rice's NCAA experience and coaching) can't decide the series. If Rice does everything right this weekend, they will still have to hope for a weak UT start or two to give them a window. If they get that, a regional win is possible.

First game: Friday, 1 p.m. vs. No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette



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