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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Runs save UH from pitching

HUNTSVILLE – The Cougars broke out the bats in a big way against Sam Houston State, but even that couldn’t balance their poor pitching performance.

The Cougars battered the Bearkats’ pitching staff for 18 hits in a 14-8 win Wednesday night at Don Sanders Stadium, but their pitching staff wasn’t much better.

Five UH pitchers combined to surrender 11 hits and 10 walks. The Cougars (10-5) were at their worst over the final two innings, where they allowed five runs on four hits and five walks.

The game ended when senior outfielder/reliever Bryan Tully got Bearkat senior outfielder Keith Stein to fly out with runners at first and third and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Afterwards, head coach Rayner Noble offered only a few words about the Cougars’ pitching performance.

"It was just bad," he said.

Sophomore reliever Barrett Bruce and Tully were the only two pitchers who didn’t allow runs. Bruce (2-0) earned the win after allowing only two hits and a walk over 2 2/3 innings in relief of sophomore starter Donnie Joseph, who was pulled after allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Joseph, sophomore left-hander Taylor Hammack and junior left-hander Jimmy Raviele didn’t come close to matching Bruce’s efficiency. The three combined to yield eight runs on nine hits and nine walks.

"Barrett Bruce was the MVP of the pitching staff, hands down," Noble said. "He did a good job."

Senior second baseman Ryan Lormand (3-for-5, 4 RBIs) and freshman right fielder Matt Murphy (2-for-4, 4 RBIs) led the way offensively for the Cougars. Senior first baseman Bryan Pounds also had a big night, going 3-for-6 with two runs and a RBI.

"We swung the bats good," Noble said. "I think we were very productive with what we did at home plate."

The Cougars took an early 4-0 lead off Bearkat freshman starter Cody Springer in the top of the second.

UH loaded the bases with no outs against Springer (0-1), and sophomore catcher Austin Goolsby crushed a double to center field that scored junior third baseman Jimmy Cesario (2-for-5, four runs, RBI) and Lormand.

Junior designated hitter Felix Fanaselle followed with a single through the right side to score Murphy. Goolsby later came around to score after freshman shortstop Blake Kelso grounded into a double play.

The Cougars’ lead increased to 6-0 when Lormand drove in Pounds and Cesario with a single in the third.

The Bearkats (9-6) battled back, scoring twice in the bottom of the fourth to pull within 6-2. After the two teams traded runs in the fifth inning, the Cougars’ lead stood at 7-3.

UH, however, put the game away by scoring three runs in the top of the seventh. Murphy supplied the crushing blow with a two-out, two-run double, and scored the final run of the inning on a home plate steal.

Murphy repeated the feat with a two-out, two-run double in the eighth that upped the Cougars’ lead to 13-3 and put the contest well out of reach.

"Hitting with runners in scoring position is a key, and Matt did a nice job of that," Noble said.

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