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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Baseball

Pitching woes send Cougars into slump


The Cougars will look to Michael Goodnight to correct their recent pitching problems when he takes the mound against Sam Houston State at 6:30 p.m. today at Cougar Field. | Justin Flores/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars will attempt to snap their season-worst four-game losing streak when they take on Sam Houston State at 6:30 p.m. today at Cougar Field.

After starting conference play by taking two out of three against a solid Central Florida squad, the Cougars’ four-game losing streak began with a 6-5 loss to a mediocre Texas San Antonio team and ended with a disheartening sweep by in-town rival Rice.

The issue troubling the Cougars during the losing streak, and indeed most of the season, has been their pitching; they have a team ERA of 5.14. During the four-game losing streak, not one starter made it to the fourth inning.

The most brutal example came Saturday against Rice when starter Eric Brooks lasted only one inning. Brooks couldn’t locate the strike zone and threw 26 balls for five walks, compared to 17 strikes.

“There are some guys that I thought would give us a chance,” head coach Rayner Noble said. “I mean, you can’t give your team a chance if you go out there and don’t throw strikes, and, especially as a starting pitcher, you’ve got to be on your game, so it’ll be scrutinized tomorrow, and I’ll make a decision.”

Noble said he has yet to find a rotation he is comfortable with.

“I don’t think anybody has really pitched that well,” he said. “Ty (Stuckey) was pretty good, but I’m just not real pleased with what we’ve gotten so far to this point.”

UTSA was 32-25 last season and this season is 12-14. The Cougars will face another struggling baseball power in Sam Houston State, which is 12-16 this season after a 36-24 record last season.

This season, the Bearkats have been anything but consistent. They began the season with a seven-game losing streak, losing nine of their first 10 games, then went 11-4 in their next 15, with a seven-game winning streak. They have  now lost three in a row.

Generally, a team that’s streaky has issues on the mound, and the Bearkats have their fair share with a team ERA of 6.31. The Bearkats have only two pitchers, Justin Jackson and Brandon Kimbrel, with an ERA below 5.00.

Still, the Bearkats have one of the most renowned coaches in collegiate baseball, Mark Johnson, who surpassed 1,000 career victories on March 28 against UTSA. Johnson is 15th on the nation’s career wins list.

The all-time series between UH and SHSU is tied at 73-73. SHSU evened the series last year by sweeping the Cougars with an 18-16 win at Cougar Field and an 11-2 win in Huntsville.

“We’re going to start Michael Goodnight today and see if we can’t get him to understand to throw strikes. He’ll probably throw about 75 pitches, and (we’ll) get him ready for Sunday against TCU,” Noble said. “We’ve got to get that guy going. He’s got to be good for us, and hopefully today will be a productive day.”

The Cougars have a three-game series this weekend against TCU beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Cougar Field.

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