Owls flail against Cougar baseball offense
The Cougars’ offense has been hard to hold down. Add good pitching to the mix and the team appears to have the tools to compete with anybody.
Wednesday’s 5-8 win over Baseball America No. 12 Rice (17-7) proved Houston (16-7) can do just that.
After freshman pitcher Jared Ray allowed three runs on four hits in the top of the first inning, he, along with freshmen pitchers Chase Dempsay and Ty Stuckey, held Rice to just two runs on six hits for the remainder of the game.
"Any kind of success we really have starts on the mound," head coach Rayner Noble said. "Jared was a little shaky in the first obviously, but he settled down and Chase did a fabulous job in behind him and then Stuckey behind him. It was a good day for our freshmen."
That was more than enough for the offense, led by senior infielder Bryan Pounds, to send the Owls home with a mark in the loss column.
Pounds added a 4-for-5 night with two home runs and seven RBIs to his already stellar year. He is now leading the team with a .447 average, six home runs and 32 RBIs and has at least one hit in 22 of Houston’s 23 games this season.
Pounds knows that his success is coming at the right time.
"The whole season I’ve been feeling good," Pounds said. "But it feels even better when you come out against ranked teams, and we need big games. It feels good to have a game like that."
After freshman shortstop Blake Kelso reached on an error to lead off the first inning, Pounds hit his first home run of the game to bring UH within one run. He followed that with a single in the third and a double in the fifth.
Down 3-4 in the seventh, sophomore centerfielder Zak Presley led off the inning with a single, followed by a double by Kelso and a walk to senior left fielder Jake Stewart to load the bases for Pounds. On a 1-0 count, he sent Rice junior pitcher Bryan Price’s final pitch of the night deep over the wall in left centerfield.
"(Pounds is) playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now," Noble said. "You show me a guy that’s got a lot of confidence and I’ll show you a good player, and that’s exactly what he is right now."
Eight of the nine Cougars in the starting lineup had a hit against the Owls, four of them with more than one. Kelso had a strong performance with two hits and three runs. Stewart contributed with a 2-for-3 night with two runs and an RBI.
The Cougars have now won 12 of their last 15 games, including three consecutive. Timely pitching and big at-bats have the Cougars playing their best this season.
"Our offense has really been doing good this year," Pounds said. "We’re just going to try to keep producing runs and hopefully they’ll keep getting the outs."