UH prepares for Rice
The Cougars still have a shot at capturing the Conference USA regular-season title and top seed in the league tournament.
As usual, crosstown nemesis Rice stands in the way.
The third-place Cougars (21-23, 10-5 C-USA) trail the Owls in the conference standings by only one game, heading into this weekend’s Silver Glove Series at Cougar Field. Collegiate Baseball No. 8 Rice (29-10, 11-4) leads second-place East Carolina (32-14, 12-6) by only half a game and could put more room between itself and the nearest competitors by taking at least two of three games this weekend.
Of course, Rice, which defeated the Cougars in both of their earlier meetings, needs only one win to clinch the Silver Glove Trophy for the ninth consecutive season.
The Cougars hope that they can swing the series in their favor and remain in the contention for the C-USA title.
‘We’ve put ourselves in pretty good position,’ UH head coach Rayner Noble said. ‘If we play well, good things will happen. If we don’t, we’ll be scratching our heads.’
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they’ve had to scratch their heads several times after games against the Owls during the last few years. UH hasn’t beaten Rice in its last five tries and has dropped 11 of their last 14 meetings, including a matchup in the 2006 C-USA Tournament.
Still, the Cougars have to like their chances with right-handers Jared Ray and Michael Goodnight and left-hander Wes Musick slated to start this weekend.
Ray (3-2, 4.07 ERA) will start the opener at 6 p.m. today. He is 2-0 in his last two starts and has tossed 28 2/3 consecutive shutout innings, only eight short of the school record set by Kyle Crowell in 1999. Rice will challenge Ray with left-hander Taylor Wall (5-3, 3.77).
Goodnight (4-3, 3.60) will start Saturday, and Musick (4-5, 4.95) will get the Sunday nod. Rice will counter with right-handers Ryan Berry (4-0, 1.91) and Jared Rogers (2-1, 9.00) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The Cougars’ weekend rotation has been solid in the last two weeks, and they hope the trend will continue against Rice.
‘It’s got to start with our pitching,’ Noble said. ‘We’ve got to go out there and not give them anything, in terms of walks and hit batsmen.’