UH stifles Cowboys in box, takes big win
After struggling early this season, in its last two games the Cougars pitching staff has shown it has the potential to make this offensively powered team competitive.
In Tuesday’s game against McNeese State, Houston pitchers limited the Cowboys to just four hits, the second time they’ve done that in as many games. After another strong offensive effort, the Cougars left Lake Charles, La. with an 11-1 victory.
Houston is now 15-7 on the season (2-1 Conference USA) and 11-3 in its last 14 games. The Cougars have scored less than four runs only twice this season, and put up double-digit scores six times. However, the impressive numbers Tuesday came from the mound.
Making his first career start, junior Chris Wright pitched four innings of one-run baseball, allowing just four hits with three strikeouts and a walk. That would be all the offense the Cowboys (6-16) would get.
When sophomore pitcher John Touchton entered the game in the fifth inning, he came off a two-inning one-hit performance to close out Houston’s 8-10 win against San Francisco a week ago. He picked up right where he left off on Tuesday.
In four innings of relief, Touchton didn’t give up a single hit while striking out five. After walking the Cowboys’ junior outfielder Sam Merrill in the fifth, he retired seven consecutive hitters before the leadoff man reached base on an error in the eighth. He got out of the inning by getting Merrill to hit into a 4-6-3 double play and then striking out McNeese State junior infielder Shon Landry.
Sophomore pitcher Taylor Hammack entered in the ninth to put the game away. After hitting redshirt freshman infielder Kanon Broussard with one out, Hammack struck out the last two hitters to end the game.
Houston hitters continued to devour opposing pitchers, getting 14 hits and scoring three or more runs in three separate innings. The Cougars struck hard in the first, giving their defense a four-run cushion to work with.
After senior leftfielder Jake Stewart walked and stole second base and senior first baseman Bryan Pounds singled, junior third baseman Jimmy Cesario singled to left, driving in the game’s first run. Senior second baseman Ryan Lormand then singled to bring in Pounds, followed by a single by freshman right fielder Matt Murphy to drive in Cesario and Lormand. The Cougars never looked back.
After a run in the third on a homerun from junior designated hitter Felix Fanaselle, the Cougars scored three more runs in the fifth on a base-clearing triple from freshman shortstop Blake Kelso. Houston topped off its offensive performance with a three-run eighth inning.
The Cougars return home today to face cross-town rivals Rice at 6:30 at Cougar Field. This will be their second meeting this season and the second game of the Silver Glove Series. The game will not count in the C-USA standings.
The Baseball America No. 12-ranked Owls beat the Cougars 11-12 in a heartbreaker at Reckling Park Feb. 27 and will be looking to keep their success against ranked teams going after beating then No. 23-ranked East Carolina twice over the weekend.
Freshman Jared Ray will take the mound for the Cougars. Ray currently has a 6.29 ERA in six appearances (four starts) and will try to earn his first decision of the season. He will likely face Rice sophomore Mike Ojala who is 1-0 with an 8.74 ERA in five appearances (three starts).