The normal motivations for a baseball team run the gamut between win, play well, and don’t look bad. For the Rice Owls, who beat the University of Texas San Antonio 7-4 to move to 8-12 in conference, the motivation is far more primal and simple: survive. Having strung together seven runs on 12 hits, the Owls kept true to their one word goal.
Owls head coach Wayne Graham was direct about what this game meant for his team.
“We had to have that one. Had to have it,” Graham said after the game. “Every win increases our pulse. We need a stronger pulse It gets a little stronger every time we win one. We just gotta keep winning.”
Graham pointed out that while it’s not the normal motivation, it isn’t without its benefits.
“When we presented it, it was that we were battling for survival every day. That’s all that matters right now. We’re battling to survive, and we will be for the rest of the season.”It’s very good motivation, because you’re not supposed to give in. If you’re battling for survival, your life, you’ll fight. And that’s what we’re battling for: the life of this team.”
For Rice pitcher Kendal Jefferies, who worked 3.2, struck out six, and got his first save of the season, the sentiment of survival was easy to relate
“Coming in, I knew I had to be halfway decent because these guys [UTSA] are really good,” said the sophomore right-hander. “Bases loaded, one out, I knew that one hit could put them right back in the game. That was one my mind, but I knew that if I could make some good pitches I could probably get out of it.”
Aware of the two-fold pressure of surviving and being the man on the mound for the moment, Jefferies recognized the challenge.
“You’re the hero one day, you’re the goat the next day. It’s good to be the hero every now and then. I guess I was glad I got to be that today.”