There were a number of interesting games last night, including Texas’ nine-stolen-base effort in a 9-4 win against Texas-Arlington; fine pitching performances from Southern California’s Tommy Milone, Kevin Couture and Paul Koss in a 5-2 win against Loyola-Marymount; Jordan Chambless striking out five in 1.2 innings of relief in Texas A&M’s 9-1 win against Texas-Southern; and Pepperdine and Long Beach State playing to a 7-7 tie in a game suspended after 10 innings due to darkness.
But the most interesting of all was Texas State’s 3-2 upset of No. 1 Rice in San Marcos, Texas. The Bobcats pushed across a run on three consecutive singles in the ninth inning against Rice junior righthander Bobby Bell, who worked the ninth and suffered his first career loss in 13 decisions. The Owls were just glad to have Bell back on the mound–he had been limited this spring because of a pulled hamstring and a severe grease burn on his pitching hand suffered three weeks ago.
“I thought Bobby was OK last night, he just left a couple of changeups up,” Rice coach Wayne Graham said. “I wasn’t disappointed in the way he threw.”
Graham was enthusiastic about the performance of starter Matt Langwell, a junior transfer from Sam Houston State who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Langwell struck out five and walked one in three hitless, scoreless innings, touching 91 mph with his fastball and throwing several good changeups. Graham also said that senior righty Ryne Tacker was “nasty.” Tacker, who missed last season with a stress fracture in his knee, worked three hitless, scoreless innings in relief, striking out a pair.
Keep an eye on Texas State, which has now beaten Oklahoma and Rice in its first four games. The Bobcats lost Luke Cannon, who hit 18 home runs last year, but they have a veteran pitching staff led by last night’s starter B.J. Boening, the older brother of Texas lefthander Riley Boening. Texas State coach Ty Harrington also has Longhorn connections, having played there in the 1980s and served as an assistant there from 1988-91.
“They were really scrappy last night and they had a big crowd because we were number one, so they had a packed house, very enthusiastic,” Graham said. “But I think it’s a little early to tell (how good they are). They had some pitchers who were decent last year who have matured and may keep them in the hunt. They got a good coach in Harrington, so they’re going to be well coached, and there’s a great talent pool in Texas.”