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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Coogs conclude rocky season

After a disappointing performance in the C-USA Tournament, the Cougars will go back to the drawing board during the offseason. | Cougar file photo

The Cougars were fortunate to make the Conference USA tournament hosted at Cougar Field. During May the Cougars went 7-6 in conference play. Teams with more talent like UCF and Tulane faltered down the stretch, and UH snuck in.

The Cougars won their first game 11-7 over Marshall and gave some hope that maybe they could pull off a miracle. However, that set up a matchup against the Cougars’ worst nightmare – Rice.

The Owls not only swept the Cougars 4-0 and outscored them 48-16, and a spot in the championship game was on the line. The Owls brought the Cougars back to reality by amassing half that total in a colossal 24-3 win to end UH’s season.

The Cougars’ third game was a meaningless 10-6 loss to Southern Miss. The only news to come out of that was that the Golden Eagles would go on to pull the 7-4 upset of the Owls in the championship game.

“It was a poor season, our pitching just never could come together, our bullpen didn’t come together, we had numerous guys nicked up and hurt,” Noble said. “It was just way below University of Houston standards this season.”

Against Marshall, the Cougars’ offense scored on defensive lapses, walks, balks and timely hitting. The Cougars scored four runs in the first two innings.

In the four-run third it was a walk-a-thon. The Cougars walked four times, had three hits and scored four runs. The Cougars scored one in the fourth and two in the fifth on Cokinos’ first triple of the year to lead 11-0.

Michael Goodnight had a disappointing season as the Cougars’ number one starter, but he finished with one of his better outings. Goodnight did allow nine base runners, but the only blemishes were a two-run homer in the sixth, and a solo homer in the seventh.

Goodnight said he was trying to pitch quickly so the offense could get back on the field.

“I was feeling good. Our offense was clicking, and I was just trying to get back in the dugout as quickly as possible. That way our offense could get more runs,” Goodnight said. “They did a number in the first four or five innings, and they sealed the game for us.”

The Cougars’ win against Marshall and Rice’s 11-3 win over East Carolina meant both teams would face each other with a chance to play in the championship game.

The Owls decided that chance right away by scoring 11 runs in the first inning, including a grand slam by All-American Anthony Rendon.

The Owls scored 10 in the third, fourth and fifth innings and 24 runs total to set a tournament record for runs in an inning and a game.

“Rice did an outstanding job of turning around mediocre pitching,” Noble said. “You have to hand it to them – when we made mistakes, they pounded the ball.”

Noble said games like this you have to try to keep focus.

“You hope your guys can go out there and get outs and then come in and swing the bats,” Noble said. “It makes for a long game, and it’s a little embarrassing, but that’s competition. Some times you’re going to have days like this.”

The Cougars finish the season 25-32.

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