HOUSTON–Rice righthander Mike Ojala has nasty stuff and is darn near unhittable when he get ahead in the count. Ojala (right) has eight strikeouts through three innings against UCLA, and the Owls lead 3-2. He has used his vicious 79-82 mph breaking ball to get almost all of the strikeouts, but he rarely throws the pitch for strikes–hitters just can’t lay off it in the dirt. Ojala’s generally done a good job using his 89-91 mph fastball to get first-pitch strikes, then just pounding hitters with one breaking ball after another.
UCLA lefthander Rob Rasmussen was shaky in the first, giving up three runs, but he came back with a 1-2-3 second inning, as he turned more to his 72-75 mph curveball.
Other early thoughts:
• UCLA center fielder Blair Dunlap is crazy-fast. He laid down a perfect drag bunt to lead off the second, stole second base without even drawing a throw after getting a huge jump, then scored easily on Eddie Murray’s single up the middle.
• Rice’s offense is extremely potent, even without much home run power. The Owls are going to wear out the gaps this year–they had three doubles in the first inning alone tonight (one apiece by Brock Holt, Diego Seastrunk and Steven Sultzbaugh). That lineup is extremely dangerous from top to bottom. I have a feeling both of these teams could make some serious postseason noise.
• Leaving the Owls out of the top 25 recruiting class rankings was a huge oversight–that’s a great class. Anthony Rendon and Jeremy Rathjen are true impact players, Brock Holt is a sparkplug at second base, Steven Sultzbaugh has all kinds of tools and I’ve heard good things about the arms in the class, too.
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