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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Baseball

Cougars set for tussle with TCU


Head coach Rayner Noble hopes his team can come together this weekend against TCU and build on Tuesday’s win over Sam Houston State as the regular season winds down. | Newton Liu/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars will get a chance to see how well they’ve turned the page on a bad season when they take on TCU.

UH (13-14) enters this weekend’s series well prepared from a competition standpoint, having already faced perennial powers Texas, Rice and Arizona State.

The Horned Frogs have won all but one of their six weekend series, including sweeps over Sam Houston State and Texas Tech. In their seventh season under head coach Jim Schlossnagle, who is 271-127 in his career at TCU, the Horned Frogs are 20-7 and ranked No. 12 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll.

TCU enters this weekend on a season-high two-game losing streak after dropping its series finale against San Diego State on Saturday and losing 4-2 to Oklahoma on Tuesday, with both losses coming in Fort Worth.

“It’s another good test for us,” head coach Rayner Noble said. “We desperately need to win some ball games against a quality team to get our RPI back to where it’s respectable, and there’s no better opportunity than this weekend against the Horned Frogs.”

The Cougars had their worst stretch of the season last week when they lost to Texas San Antonio and were swept by Rice for a season-long, four-game losing streak.

The main issue during UH’s current streak is the same one that has reared its ugly head all season — the pitching staff, which gave up at least six runs in all four losses.

The Cougars put a stop to that Tuesday when they defeated Sam Houston State 4-2 on the arm of starter Michael Goodnight, who went 5 2/3 innings, surrendering five hits with zero walks and eight strikeouts.

“It was a lot better because I was able to control my fastball. When you control your fastball, it’s a lot easier to pitch, so it was a good outing,” said Goodnight, who made his first mid-week start of the season.

“It was just a fastball with a little bit of movement, and just trying to attack hitters early and get like one- to four-pitch outs for every batter. That way, you can go deeper into games.”

Noble said it was an opportunity to take a step back and start afresh after a tough stretch.

“Anytime you come off of a weekend where it was a little disappointing, wins are a good thing, and we talked about what we’ve done to this point,” Noble said. “(Our record of) 13-14, that’s an old season. We just start a new season today and see how we can do the rest of the way.”

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