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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Noble makes swaps in UH baseball rotation, lineup

The Cougars are only eight games into their season, but head coach Rayner Noble is already changing his team’s blueprint.

The first of these changes will come into play when Noble starts sophomore right-hander John Touchton against Louisiana-Lafayette at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Cougar Field.

Touchton began the season as the Cougars’ closer, but could be heading to the rotation for good after being roughed up in his last two outings.

Noble also plans to move freshman outfielder/pitcher Chase Dempsay from the midweek rotation to the closer’s role, and freshman infielder/pitcher Ty Stuckey from the bullpen to the weekend rotation. Sophomore left-hander Taylor Hammack will move to the midweek rotation allowing Stuckey to become the Sunday starter.

"I think Chase Dempsay is a guy that we’re going to need at the end of ballgames a little more so than John," Noble said.

"Dempsay is going to be a little more resilient, so we’re going to kind of flip flop their roles, and see if we can start stretching John’s innings out and get him back to that role of a starter that he was (in) last year."

The Cougars (4-4) are no strangers to turnover at the back end of their bullpen, having played musical chairs at closer since the 2006 season. Touchton (1-1) emerged as a top candidate for closer during the preseason, and strengthened his chances after picking up a save and a win in his first two appearances.

Touchton’s good fortune, however, didn’t last long.

He blew a two-run lead in Wednesday’s 12-11 loss to then-Baseball America No. 15 Rice and surrendered a game-winning three-run homer in Saturday’s 8-5 (10 inn.) loss to Oklahoma in the Houston College Classic, prompting Noble to make a change.

Louisiana-Lafayette senior right-hander Buddy Glass (0-1) will challenge Touchton on the mound, and try to keep the Ragin’ Cajuns on the winning path. After winning their first two games, the Ragin’ Cajuns (3-5) dropped five consecutive contests before stopping the skid with a 2-0 win against Southern Miss on Sunday.

The Cougars are planning to rebound after falling to then-No. 14 Texas 8-7 in 10 innings on Sunday. The Cougars’ hopes for an upset were squashed when Texas freshman designated hitter Connor Rowe singled home sophomore infielder David Hernandez with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th.

Noble hopes that the losses to Oklahoma and Texas will serve as a lesson to his team.

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