The Missouri State baseball team ended its brief three game road trip at Rice on Sunday, dropping the series two games to one. 

The baseball Bears scored nine runs as part of their best offensive showing of the 2020 season in Game 2, but were outscored by the Owls 17-5 in the other two contests. 

Winless over their first seven games of the season, Rice erased a four-run Bears rally by putting their first seven batters of the game  on the board against Missouri State ace Logan Wiley. Trei Cruz belted a two-run homer and Rodrigo Duluc added a three-run triple to highlight an inning that saw Rice send 11 batters to the plate. 

The Owls, which had scored just eight combined runs in its last four games, scored 12 unanswered runs to power past the Bears in the series opener. 

In Game 2, Missouri State used a pair of big innings to build a seven-run lead on their way to a 9-3 victory over Rice. Freshman Drake Baldwin tripled home two runs in a three-run third inning, then plated two more baserunners as part of the Bears’ four-run outburst in the seventh that stretched their lead to 7-0. 

Baldwin finished with a career-high four RBIs. The Bears also received a boost from senior Ben Whetstone, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs after delivering run-producing hits in back-to-back innings to help put the game away. 

On the mound, freshman starter Hayden Minton and sophomore reliever Forrest Barnes combined to keep Rice off the board for the first six innings. Barnes gave up three earned runs on four hits in 3.2 innings, but sophomore Trey Ziegenbein finished off the victory with a scoreless ninth. 

In Game 3, Missouri State struck first with a run in the opening inning, but Rice held the Bears’ offense at bay for the rest of the game. The Owls took the series with a 5-1 win as Missouri State’s offense sputtered, finishing the day just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. 

Sophomore lefthander Peyton Carson picked up the loss, his third of the season. Carson allowed four earned runs on seven hits over 4.1 innings of work. Baldwin led the Bears at the plate, going 2-for-2 with the team’s only RBI. 

Despite losing the series, Missouri State is still off to a better start than last season. The Bears are sitting 5-6, compared to their 3-8 start in 2019. The Bears return to action on Tuesday at No. 23 Oklahoma State, first pitch set for 4 p.m.