Last night, Rice lost it as much as LSU won it. We were aided by a run-scoring balk, several base hits off of the gloves of fielders, a HBP on Ochinko who was down in the count, and a 9th inning error. They also made a colossal blunder by pitching their closer too long when his stuff was clearly wearing out. But win we did. We benefited from their mistakes.
Getting that first win was huge, and we are not out of this thing by any stretch. The other good news, beyond just the win, was that UNC lost. If we hoped to win this thing, we had to go through UNC one way or another, and I'd much rather not have to face their ace again. If we were to catch them at the end of the regional, we'd need two wins against them, and they'd throw the same guy at us who creamed us last time.
I like my chances of getting by UNC a lot better getting their #3 pitcher. Of course, their #3 pitcher is pretty darn good himself. He gets a ton of strikeouts, and in a tournament in which everyone seems to have problems fielding the ball, a strikeout pitcher seems like the best option. He also throws some walks, so that's helpful, as is the fact that he is a righty. His ERA of 2.52 and his opponents-batting-average of .210 is not helpful. He's a freshman, and that is helpful.
Hey, to win this thing, you have to beat good teams and you have to beat good pitching. Knowing we have to win three in a row from here to get to the championship series, and there is no way you can look at it and say that's a likely thing to happen, this situation is not that bad. The strength of our pitching staff is our bullpen, and this format does not overly tax a bullpen due to all the days off. Our bullpen is completely intact for Thursday's game.