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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Baseball

Noble, Cougars still searching for winning formula


After a 27-31 finish last season, the Cougars were looking forward to a fresh start in 2010.

Their fresh start quickly turned stale after a season-opening sweep at the hands of Texas State last weekend.

UH dropped games 6-0, 6-3 and 9-7 respectively to the Bobcats at Cougar Field and now sit at 0-3.

The Cougars certainly had many issues in their first series — everything from pitching to fielding — and even struggled in the batter’s box. And when they did well in one area, they were usually off in the other.

Head coach Rayner Noble said the team will need to right its ship in a hurry to avoid a repeat of last season.

“We just didn’t execute. We didn’t make the plays we needed to. We didn’t make the pitches when we needed to make pitches,” Noble said. “One thing we’ve got to do better is we’ve got to pitch better out of the bullpen. We were absolutely terrible out of the bullpen.”

The Cougars’ relief corps allowed 11 of Texas State’s 21 runs in the series. Subtract starter Eric Brooks’ five runs; that’s 11 out of 16 runs for nearly 70 percent of the runs allowed and an ERA of 12.53.

Michael Goodnight and Ty Stuckey, who started the first two games, both went at least three innings and allowed two earned runs. Brooks started Sunday’s game, and while he showed some grit, fell victim to two home runs and gave up five earned runs in four innings.

The Cougars will try for another fresh start when they start a three-game series with Santa Clara beginning at 6:30 p.m. today at Cougar Field.

Santa Clara, of the West Coast Conference, went 19-34 last season and 6-15 in the WCC. One glaring weakness for the Broncos was their pitching. Their team ERA was 6.31, and their opponents’ batting average was .312. This season, the Broncos started with a home series against Nevada and lost two out of three.

The season has just started, however, and Noble said the advantage is that he is still learning where players fit.

“I think we’re finding out where guys need to be,” Noble said. “I think the thing that I’ve got to figure out is where people are going to be best suited in the lineup. The silver lining in this, if that makes any sense at all, is that I’m figuring out spots in the lineup. We’ll be ready.”

The series will continue 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

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