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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Baseball

UH nets big win over UT


UH righthander Michael Goodnight improved to 2-1 and lowered his ERA to 3.78 after tossing seven shutout innings in the Cougars’ 1-0 win over No. 3 Texas on Saturday. | Newton Liu/The Daily Cougar

What a difference one weekend makes.

The Cougars entered the Houston College Classic with a struggling pitching staff, an offense that could hardly be classified as “clutch” and a defense that needed some improvement.

But all three units brought the right stuff to Minute Maid Park.

UH swept its three-game slate at the Classic, highlighted by a 1-0 win over No. 3 Texas on Saturday and punctuated by a 15-8 win over Texas Tech in its tournament finale Sunday afternoon.

The Cougars (5-5) opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over Missouri on Friday to snap a two-game losing streak.

They were on a roll from there.

“We had some hard practices before we came in here, and the guys really responded,” head coach Rayner Noble said. “They understood what me and my staff are looking for, and what we need to do is kind of capture this, keep it in a bottle and understand that this is the key to success.

“I’m just proud of our crew. We’ve never won three games in a big league tournaments, so it’s kind of a big deal.”

This past weekend’s sweep marked the first time the Cougars have won all three games at the Classic in the 10 years they’ve participated in the event.

Their win against Texas, which snapped a five-game losing streak against the Longhorns, was easily the most memorable.

Sophomore righthander Michael Goodnight (2-1) outdueled Texas starter Brandon Workman, allowing only two hits and striking out nine batters in seven shutout innings. Workman went the distance, allowing only four hits and striking out seven batters in eight innings, but his fate was decided in the bottom of the first.

Blake Kelso tripled off Workman to start the frame and scored on a wild pitch. That was as much damage as the Cougars could inflict on Workman.

But with Goodnight pitching a gem, UH would not need more than that.

“He was outstanding, (but) a little rough around the edges,” Noble said. “He threw a lot of pitches early and finally settled down. He was hitting the outside corner just about anytime he wanted, and that really gave them fits.”

Goodnight said his plan was to stay out of the middle of the plate against Texas.

“We were just taught to throw it at the corners,” he said. “You don’t want to leave anything over the plate, and it was a little tight back there, but you just got to battle through it. Every umpire’s got a different zone, and you just got to find it.”

Relievers Ty Stuckey and Matt Creel tossed a scoreless frame apiece to seal the Cougars’ triumph, with Creel surviving a shaky ninth to earn his second save.

Cameron Rupp led off with a single, and Russell Moldenhauer walked. Creel struck out the next two batters, but pinch hitter Paul Montalbano hit a hard liner that was headed to left-center.

However, Kelso, a shortstop, leaped in the air to snag the liner and a monumental win against the Longhorns.

The Cougars had a less dramatic outing in their tournament finale against Texas Tech. The Cougars scored 13 runs over the first two innings, including a tournament-record 10 in the second inning, and tallied 16 hits en route to dispatching the Red Raiders (7-5).

M.P. Cokinos led the way by hitting 2-for-2 with a homer, a walk, two runs and five RBIs. Chris Wallace went 2-for-3 and scored twice, Joel Ansley drove in two runs, and Caleb Ramsey scored twice and drew two walks.

“We did a nice job of swinging the bat early in the game, and it was a good game for everybody to get some action in a big league ballpark,” Noble said.

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