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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Bearkats roar past Cougars

HUNTSVILLE – The thrill was gone early from this one.

The Cougars’ pitching staff broke down after only three innings against Sam Houston State, and the offense peaked in the first inning, contributing heavily to a lackluster 11-2 loss Tuesday at Don Sanders Stadium.

UH, which suffered its third loss in the last four games, jumped on Bearkats starter Dallas Gallant for two runs in the top of the first inning, but the offense posted zeroes during the final eight innings.

Cougars starter Mo Wiley was nearly un-hittable through the first three innings, but the Bearkats chased him in the fourth inning before going to work on the rest of the staff.

Despite facing Gallant, who entered the game with an 8.69 ERA, the Cougars (15-20) recorded only five hits and just three after the first inning, two of those coming with them trailing by nine in the ninth.

‘We came to Huntsville today and decided to just play a three-inning game, and then we shut it down,’ head coach Rayner Noble said. ‘It’s obvious that the pitching shut down after the third inning, and the offense shut down after the third inning. I’ll have to remind our guys that it’s a nine-inning game from now on, not a three-inning game.’

The crushing blow was struck in the fourth, when the Bearkats (21-13) jumped on Wiley (2-2) – who had allowed only one hit through the first three innings – for five runs.

Braeden Riley led off the frame with a single to right field and scored on Nick Zaleski’s double to left field. Wiley plunked Jon Reed with a pitch to place runners at first and second with no outs for Tyler Knight, who drove in Zaleski with a single to center field to tie the game at 2.

Mark Wyatt scored Reed and Knight with a double to right field to give Sam Houston State a 4-2 lead. Two batters later, Wyatt scored from third on Ryan Mooney’s sacrifice fly to put the Bearkats ahead by three.

Meanwhile, Gallant (2-3) settled in after a rough first inning, when he surrendered a two-run single to William Kankel. Gallant went 6 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs on three hits and five walks. He had six strikeouts and retired nine of the 11 batters he faced between the fourth and six innings.

Gallant was successful because he consistently stayed ahead in the count and retired a handful of batters on the first or second pitch.

‘We were just getting ourselves out, swinging at bad pitches,’ UH shortstop Blake Kelso said. ‘When we got good pitches, we weren’t hitting them like we should have.’

Sam Houston State extended its lead to 8-2 after tagging UH relievers Chris Wright and Chase Dempsay for three runs in the sixth. Knight (3-for-4, three runs, three RBIs) capped the scoring with a three-run homer off Kankel, who moved from right field to the mound, in the seventh.

The Cougars will try to get back on track during this weekend’s three-game Conference USA series at Memphis, but Tuesday’s loss will sting a little.

‘We just fell apart,’ catcher Chris Wallace said. ‘We just came out terrible offensively. From (starters) one through nine, all of us were pretty bad.’

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