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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Baseball

Winning streak on the line against Rice in game one of the Silver Glove Series


Designated hitter Joe Davis and his teammates will look to continue the baseball team’s winning streak in game one of the Silver Glove Series against the Rice Owls Tuesday night. | Richard Fletcher Jr./The Cougar

On Tuesday, the baseball team takes their eight-game winning streak and all the momentum that comes with it to Rice University for the first game in the Silver Glove Series.

The Cougars and the Owls have been playing each other on an annual basis since 1972, with the Owls leading the series at 105-79. Tuesday’s game marks the 185th time the two will have played each other. The former conference rivals play a home and away series every year, with the third game being played at Constellation Field in Sugar Land.

“It’s a big game for a lot of reasons,” said head coach Todd Whitting. “One, it is our cross town rival and two, we were 8-8 eight games ago so we’re trying to get as many wins as we can. We thought we should’ve started the season a little better, but now we’ve got a bit of momentum.”

This year, the two are coming off seasons where both won their respective conference tournaments but had their NCAA Tournament run ended at the regional stage. The baseball program at Rice is the top sport at the university without question. Head coach Wayne Graham has gotten the Owls to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1995, highlighted by a College World Series title in 2003.

Now, the Owls are trending downward. At 10-16 they have lost six of their last seven games and are only 1-5 in Conference USA play. However, the Owls are always dangerous in the Silver Glove Series.

Just last year, when the Cougars were tearing through the American Athletic Conference, they still struggled against the Owls. The Cougars dropped the first two games 9-0 and 4-3, sealing the win for the Owls. Plus they were almost swept, only winning by one run in the 6-5 affair in Sugar Land.

It has yet to be announced who is pitching for either the Cougars or Rice, but the best hitters for Rice are infielders Ford Proctor and Braden Comeaux.

Proctor leads the team in hitting with a .383 batting average, recording 20 runs batted in and three home runs. Comeaux is second on the team with a .352 average, recording 15 RBIs and 37 hits.

Comparatively for the Cougars, sophomore infielder Jared Triolo shot himself to the top of the statistical leader board with seven hits, eight RBIs and two home runs in the weekend sweep of the Memphis Tigers. He now leads the team with a .358 BA and 34 hits.

Sophomore utility player Lael Lockhart Jr. has the third best batting average at .341 and is second on the team with RBIs at 16. Along with junior designated hitter Joe Davis, the three are a strong core of hitters that are peaking at the right moment.

“We’re playing as good as we’ve played all year, and hopefully that carries over,” Whitting said.

Game one of the Silver Glove Series is set to take place in Reckling Park at Rice University Tuesday with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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