Rice traveled to Austin today to play the second game between the Longhorns and the Owls. And they pulled off the clutch 7-4 win. While the Owls led the entire game, it never felt “safe” or “easy.” There were clutch plays made all around by the team. While we went through quite a few pitchers, that has become the norm ever since Berry and Ojala went out. It’s more of a Johnny Wholestaff approach then most Rice Owls fans are used to. Still, each pitcher contributed something to the game and kept it moving. And while we did issue 12 walks and throw 4 wild pitches, we still never trailed the game. Our offense was more productive. Our defense made the plays. In all, our guys gutted it out.
They showed their character and fiber in this game. These boys are anything but quitters. When the news first broke that Berry and Ojala were going to miss some major games the word creeping around the internet was a solemn whisper, “Win by whatever means neccessary.” And that’s exactly what this team has done. It hasn’t always been text-book pretty. Or picture perfect. But, every game, someone has stepped up. Be it a hitter, a pitcher, or a defensive player, these guys have made it happen.
It makes them so hard to watch.
It makes them so much fun to watch.
I love cheering for this team. I love the nail-biting, intensely-close, are-they-going-to-pull-it-out moments. I love that no game feels safe. I love that no game ever feels out of reach or un-winable. College baseball is always a game of ups and downs. A hitter can be 2-3 with 2 home runs and 2 walks in one game and be o-for the next. Does it make them any less valuable? Of course not. These guys make it happen on every side of the plate. Someone steps up every time. It is the definition of clutch. It’s exactly what the fans asked for. We are 15-4 since the announcement first came about our Friday-Saturday pitchers. And while, yes, Mike Ojala did come in for 5 innings against both ECU and Marshall, he still wasn’t at full strength. And we’ve been plagued by other injuries and illnesses. And they still find ways to keep winning.
People called tonight’s game ugly. We never trailed. Sure we issued more walks than I would have liked, but you know something, we also didn’t let UT take advantage of it. And we scored when we needed to. 9 of our batters accounted for our 10 hits. But, there’s so much more to it than that. Anthony Rendon was hit by three pitches. Jimmy Comerota had a huge RBI sacrifice. And on and on and on. I could start with every player in our rotation and go around and mention clutch play after clutch play, both at the plate and defensively. These boys have heart. And they use it to win games. I’ve never been more proud to root for a team of any kind, than to be known as a fan of this Rice Owls baseball team. I’m with them all the way. I will never doubt their heart, their courage, their guts, or their talent. Most of all, I’ll never doubt there coach. Rice fight, never die. Blue, gray, in the sky. Stand, cheer, drink more beer. Go, Go, Go Rice!