Foul Balls, Philosophy and Baseball Gods: Notes from the Houston College Classic
Six teams. Three days. Nine games. Seventy-one innings, give or take a couple here and there. So was The Astros Foundation 2013 College Classic. And after sitting through all nine games and three days, it's safe to say that this weekend was anything but a classic of college baseball.
Most of the games were runaways -- the ten-run rule was invoked in UH's destruction of Baylor on Saturday night. Only two games went down to the last at-bat. There was some bad pitching. And poor base running. There were physical and mental errors. There was a tight-fisted owner of the Astros running the tournament like it was a weekend of Little League games.
Mainly it was a weekend where the baseball gods chose not to shine down on the highly ranked Rice Owls and where it appeared that the unranked Cougars were poised to take a great leap forward before taking a slight step backward. And maybe, unfortunately, the weekend gave a bit of a glimpse into what might be in store for Astros fans attending games at Minute Maid Park this season.
5. RICE AND THE BASEBALL GODS
The Owls came into the weekend flying high, having swept a four-game series against Hawaii in Hawaii and with their best pitcher, Austin Kubitza, on the mound for Friday's game against top-ranked North Carolina. Kubitza did what he was supposed to do and shut down the North Carolina offense, but the Owls lost the game 2-1 when Rice's offense was unable, as it often was last season, to get a hit when it mattered (both of North Carolina's runs came on wild pitches).
"We just didn't get the hit when we needed it," Graham said Friday night. "It seems like every game we play, it's like this. You know, you get the hit when you need it, you win. If you don't, you don't win. It's just one of those things."
Rice still couldn't get key hits on Saturday night, and with the team down 6-0 to the Aggies after two innings due to some poor pitching and some defensive lapses, the Owls never stood much of a chance of a comeback. And Graham just attributed the team's eventual 8-3 loss to the baseball gods' not shining down on Rice, which they also refused to do on Sunday as the Owls lost 9-2 to Baylor.
The Rice offense was nonexistent for the entire weekend, which is why they were 0-3 for the weekend. And sometimes it doesn't matter how good the pitching is if the team can't score any runs. And the Owls at the moment just can't score any runs.