Rice-Texas State: Reviewing With The OG

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You examined the box score and perused the live chat, now read what The OG had to say about the Owls' 14-6, 14-inning win over Southland foe Texas State this Sunday at The Reck:

OFFENSE: Jr. SS Rick Hague (0-for-2, two runs) and So. 3B Anthony Rendon (1-for-2, run, RBI) combined to draw six walks, putting the onus on cleanup hitter Diego Seastrunk and Steven Sultzbaugh, batting fifth, to make the Bobcats pay. GDG and Sultz combined for seven RBIs in eight at-bats, delivering quality production that should make opponents reconsider pitching around Rendon. That Rendon was so patient wasn't much or a surprise (he led the Owls with a .461 on-base% as a freshman), but getting three walks out of Hague, who walked only 22 times in 61 games in 2009, reinforces the belief that his plate discipline has improved.

So. OF Jeremy Rathjen finished 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, and one of the two times he was retired came on a titanic blast that drove the center fielder back to the warning track. Rathjen smacked an RBI double the opposite way to right field off a righthanded pitcher, and along with Sultzbaugh, offered hope that he might not be an easy out when pitched outside. 

"He even had a better day than it looked on paper," The OG said of Rathjen. "That was a good thing that Jeremy broke out like that."

DEFENSE: So much for worrying about Fr. 2B Michael Ratterree making the transition from shortstop. He started three double plays, including a nifty recovery on a ground ball that ate him up. Ratterree picked the ball out of his gut and completed a pirouette before firing to Hague, who tagged second and completed the play with an accurate toss to Jimmy Comerota at first base. When J.T. Chargois spelled Ratterree at second, he made a good play on a difficult grounder, increasing the likelihood he could play the position if the Owls faced a tough righthander with a plus breaking ball. Chargois is a switch hitter; Ratterree bats righthanded.

Oddly, Comerota committed the lone error of the day for the Owls. The OG isn't concerned.

"We got one error from a guy that won't make them in the regular season," The OG said. "It's obvious that Jimmy Comerota really helps our infielders when he plays first."

The Bobcats did not attempt to steal a base, so GDG, Craig Manuel and Geoff Perrott had relatively uneventful days behind the dish. As for handling the staff, they did so with aplomb.

PITCHING: At the worst, every Rice pitcher threw 'solid' with several - Jared Roger, Tyler Duffey and Chargois in particular - building on solid camp performances. Rogers worked two scoreless innings to pick up the victory while Duffey posted three strikeouts and topped out at 92 mph. A communication error resulted in Chargois surrendering one run in his inning of work, but he continues to display the stuff and makeup of a back-of-the-bullpen contributor.

JUCO transfers Boogie Anagnostou (2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB) and Tony Cingrani (2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) encountered trouble, but The OG wasn't startled. Duffey appeared tentative initially, but once he got hit bit, he bore down and showcased his fastball and competitiveness.

"The guys that got hurt pitching got hurt for the reasons that we illustrated they would get hurt if they don't correct that," The OG said. "When they made pitches we told them to try to avoid or in areas we told them they've got to avoid at this level, they got hurt.

"Duffey looked good. You've got to believe that Duffey is going to have a significant role."

The pitchers did as instructed relative to holding runners on base. That detail paled in comparison to another stellar outing from Jr. LHP Doug Simmons, who struck out four in two innings. The Bobcats' lefthanded batters had no prayer against Simmons' breaking stuff, and the righties had difficulty picking up his change-up. For Simmons, it was par for the course. 

"Of course Simmons was a highlight - he was really good," The OG said. "He was hitting with three good pitches going up to 91 miles an hour.

"Simmons right now would have ... a dominant role. He threw change-ups that nobody could have hit the other day. They would have been really good change-ups in the major leagues. When I see a pitch that I couldn't hit in my prime, I figure that's pretty good."

RHPs Matthew Reckling and Tyler Spurlin and LHP Abe Gonzales did not pitch against Texas State, but figure to have "significant roles" over the final two weeks of fall ball and next spring.

"It's going to take a while to get all that pitching settled in," The OG said. "We've got some guys that are throwing pretty good, and a lot of guys that go to 91 with good stuff. Duffey, Chargois, McDowell, Spurlin - those are guys we can work with. Basically the ones that refine a little bit are going to be the ones that pitch, and that's going to be refining right up to March 1st or even beyond."

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Thanks for the baseball info. Duffey showed some nice stuff on Sundsay, as did Cingrani. The offense this season should have no problems. Let's just find some back of the bullpen options. Simmons is intriguing. Fazio and Benak, if 100%, should be poised for big seasons too.

Thanks, MK. Starting to get pretty excited about our new faces on the mound.

Any updates on what Bailiff's re-evaluation of the program yields later in the week would be appreciated.

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