Cougar bullpen implodes
In utter despair, the Cougars sullenly walked off the field ready to just put this one behind them.
The Cougars held an eight-run lead heading into the top of the eighth inning against Sam Houston State, but their bullpen suffered one of its most astonishing collapses ever.’
They surrendered 10 runs, including a grand slam by Bearkat right fielder Tyler Knight and a two-run shot by designated hitter Peter Goudeau, all with no outs, allowing the Bearkats to walk out of Cougar Field with a thrilling 18-16 come-from-behind victory Tuesday.
‘It’s extremely disappointing,’ UH head coach Rayner Noble said. ‘You would think that with an eight- run lead, and having a guy that had eleven saves last season (closer Chase Dempsay) that (the lead) would be safe. But that’s where we are right now and we’ve got a lot of work to do with our pitching staff.’
Closer Dempsay came in at the start of the eighth inning and gave up a two-run double to Seth Hammock before hitting catcher Mark Wyatt. This prompted Noble to bring in William Kankel from right field to pitch. Kankel gave up a single to Nick Zaleski before giving up the grand slam to Knight. Kankel ran into more trouble when he hit a batter before giving up the two-run homer to Goudeau.
Despite the pitching miscues, the Cougars (3-11) were very efficient at the plate. They pounded out 22 hits, a Cougar Field record, with Kankel and centerfielder Zak Presley each hitting home runs.
‘We started a little bit slow offensively this season, but it’s really coming around,’ Presley said.’
The Cougars held a 9-2 lead going into the fourth inning when Dempsay doubled and scored on Presley’s home run to right field.
The Bearkats (11-5) answered back in the fifth with six runs to narrow the lead to 9-8, but the Cougars kept responded by putting up four runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Cougars added three more runs in the seventh to stretch their lead to 16-8, but a disastrous eighth inning doomed the Cougars, allowing the Bearkats escaped Houston with the win.
‘ Nine Cougar pitchers combined to give up twenty hits on the night. Pitchers Jared Ray and Chris Wright relieved starter Mo Wiley in the fifth inning, but could not record an out. Noble tried to stop the bleeding by bringing in left-hander Donnie Joseph. Joseph pitched three hitless innings, giving up one run (unearned) and a walk while striking out five to preserve the Cougars’ 16-8 lead heading into the eighth.’
‘We just have to keep looking at the positives of tonight, (the offense) and build on that for the weekend series (against Pacific),’ Presley said.