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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Baseball: Cougars to play UC Santa Barbara

Sophomore left-hander Wes Musick stands alone when it comes to consistency among the Cougars’ starting pitchers.

After three appearances (two starts), Musick is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA. He’s gone at least six innings in each of his starts, bringing some relief to the Cougars’ short-handed bullpen.

Still, Musick does not think he’s in mid-season form.

"I’m still trying to keep my pitch count down and get ahead with first-pitch strikes, and really locate the ball where I want to, get people out and not worry about giving up runs," Musick said.

Musick will step to the mound tonight when UH opens a three-game series against University of California – Santa Barbara at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Cougar Field. As usual, the Cougars (6-4) expect Musick to set the pitching staff’s tone for the weekend.

He’ll be challenged by Gauchos sophomore starter Mike Ford (1-0, 1.38 ERA). The right-hander has been somewhat overpowering in his first two starts, striking out a combined 17 batters and allowing only two runs.

UC Santa Barbara (7-3) enters tonight’s game on a four-game winning streak. The Gauchos battered Cal State Northridge’s pitching staff for 16 hits in a 9-3 win on Tuesday.

Cougars freshman right-hander Jared Ray (0-0, 4.61) will probably start on Saturday. He pitched a scoreless inning of relief and earned his first career save in Wednesday’s 9-8 win over Sacred Heart.

UH sophomore right-hander Taylor Hammack would have been in line to start Sunday, but he lost that role after struggling with his command in his first two starts. Freshman left-hander Ty Stuckey (0-1, 6.23) will replace Hammack and make his first start Sunday.

Hammack (0-0, 13.50) hasn’t been alone in his struggles. Sophomore left-hander Donnie Joseph (0-0, 7.50), sophomore right-hander John Touchton (1-1, 6.75) and junior left-hander Jimmy Raviele (1-1, 6.43) have also faltered out the gate.

Musick said that it’s probably a case of early-season jitters.

"I think people are pressuring themselves right now," he said. "It’s early in the season, and people are trying go out and do just a little bit too much right now. I think the pitching staff needs to calm down and know that they’ve got the stuff and that they can do what they’re capable of doing. They (need) to just go out there and get the job done."

This weekend also could provide another opportunity for junior designated hitter Felix Fanaselle to solidify a spot in the starting lineup. Fanaselle got his first start against Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday and went 2-for-3 with a run and three RBIs.

He started Wednesday against Sacred Heart and went 1-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. He was also hit by a pitch.

"We’re going to need Felix Fanaselle in our lineup," UH head coach Rayner Noble said following Tuesday’s game. "There’s too much pop in his bat, and his hand has got to the point to where he can get in there and do some damage."

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