Louisiana Tech 19-11 (2-7), is set for a pivotal road series at Rice this weekend. Rice, one of the perennial powers in Conference USA, has struggled throughout the year to the tune of a 10-21 (2-7) record. The Owls are lead by legendary coach Wayne Graham who is in his 26th season as the head man at Rice. Tech and Rice both enter this weekend having lost their first three conference series. With both ball clubs sitting at 2-7 in conference play, this will be a make or break weekend for both teams.
At the plate Rice is lead by two sophomore sensations in Dominic DiCaprio and Ford Proctor. DiCaprio leads the Owls with a .352 average, slugging four home runs and knocking in 25 runs. Proctor, the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year, is hitting .330 with three home runs and 16 RBI, but has struggled defensively at shortstop with ten errors. The Tech pitching staff has experienced some struggles of its own so it will be crucial for the Bulldogs to keep these two in check.
On the bump, the best arm that Rice has to offer is junior closer, Glen Otto. While Otto is the de-facto closer, he can be used in a multitude of ways in relief for a pitching staff that has struggled in comparison to their traditional lights out pitching staffs. One of the top relievers in the country, Otto will look to lead his staff in an effort to slow down a Bulldog lineup that has put up gaudy numbers thus far in 2017.
Tech seems to be getting some of their mojo back after playing solid baseball the last few times out. Leading the offensive attack has been junior shortstop Dalton Skelton. Not normally known for his bat, Skelton had a career night Tuesday against SFA when he had three doubles. The career night raised his average to .265, while he also supports a strong .390 on-base percentage.
Pitching has been an area that the ‘Dogs have suffered their fair share of difficulties lately. Saturday afternoon Coach Burroughs gave Nate Harris the ball for his first career start against UTSA. All Harris did was throw a complete game shutout on 103 pitches while striking out eight. Harris now has a 0.76 ERA good for eigth in the country. With Harris moving into the starting rotation, he will look to give the entire staff a shot in the arm with his Bulldog mentality on the mound.
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