Tonight is the polar opposite of Sunday. Both were regular season baseball games. Sunday was critical for keeping Texas in the Big 12 conference race after just two series, and it was essential for a team with the resume of a title contender but a monkey the size of the Moon on their backs.
You may recall horrific 30 minutes between Tech tying the ballgame on the ballsiest play I've ever seen and Texas finally winning things with a huge clutch hit. During that time I tried to think of what would be a more painful Texas loss in the 12 or 13 years since I started following Texas baseball. All I could think of was the two losses in the CWS finale where Texas led late in both and the first game of the 2009 CWS finale. Sunday's game would've been big if John Curtiss didn't blow the save, but to lose it in that matter would have been unthinkable. Fortunately that didn't happen.
Tonight is quite different. Tonight is the second and last midweek road game for Texas and the only time the Horns will have to go further than San Marcos.
Rice is good.
We know this because Texas beat the Owls once before this season. That game featured dominant pitching and just enough offense to carry the day. Texas can lose to Rice tonight and still feel pretty good about themselves if they beat Baylor this weekend. Of course, Texas could also use a win tonight as a boost to make a run at hosting a national seed. Or they could lose the Baylor series and neither a win nor a loss tonight will make that feel any better.
Rice has been struggling of late though with a midweek loss to Houston last week, a 3-2 win over Lamar (ISR 181) and a series loss to Middle Tennessee State (ISR 148) last weekend on the road. The Owls do have a nice series sweep of Florida International (ISR 18) and a midweek win over TCU in the last three weeks, so that's good.
Freshman Jon Duplantier will be making his second career start tonight against Lukas Schiraldi. The freshman gave up a hit and two walks in five scoreless relief innings last week against Houston. Schiraldi has had two great midweek starts in a row and gives Texas a decided advantage in these midweek affairs.
Tonight's game doesn't appear to be on television, but this'll be your open thread. First pitch is at 6:30. Hook 'em.