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Saturday, September 25, 2021


UH looks to lose weekend hangover against McNeese St.

After a challenging weekend performance at the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park, Jake Runte and the Cougars return to their home field to host the McNeese State Cowboys. | Aaron Cisneros/The Daily Cougar

Early-season losses cannot bring the Cougars down.

Head coach Todd Whitting is optimistic about this upcoming week’s slate of competition, kicking off tonight against McNeese St.

“I’m really excited about the games this week,” Whitting said. “It’s going to be a tough week for us.”

Dakota Dill will make his first start of the season against the Cowboys (7-6). Dill has been one of the most effective pitchers out of the bullpen, allowing only one earned run and striking out eight over eight-and-a-third innings of work.

After a weekend where the Cougars had weak pitching performances, Dill could help make an argument that he should be a fixture in the rotation with a strong outing.

“(Cody) Morehouse went out and competed with what he had that day,” Whitting said.

“In Sunday night’s game, we didn’t get good starting pitching, and we fell behind early. Our bullpen was a little tired and got sloppy towards the end.”

McNeese St. is coming off a sweep of its weekend series against HBU.

The Cougars lead the all-time series between the schools by a large margin, 41-12, and pummeled the Cowboys 12-2 in their last meeting in 2009.

The Cowboys’ offense has been powered by standout outfielder Lee Orr and shortstop Jace Peterson. Orr and Peterson are both hitting above .400 and have an OPS above 1.090.

Peterson has stolen 12 bases in 14 attempts and leads the team with 21 runs scored. Orr is the team-leader in total bases with 30.

The Cowboys’ pitching staff has amassed an ERA of 4.93.

Offense looking for promptness

UH will look to score early to give its pitchers cushion to work with.

The Cougars have been successful this season when they establish an early lead.

UH is 4-1 when it scores first, and 6-1 when it scores in the first inning. The Cougars are 1-5 when trailing after six innings of play.

In the Cougars’ two losses over the weekend, the team had to play from behind, giving up runs in the first inning.

UH fell behind early 3-0 to Baylor and could not mount a comeback.

They fell behind to the Aggies early, but were able to tie the game before the bullpen imploded and gave up seven unanswered runs.

UH starting pitching has been keeping games close, but the bullpen has not been consistent in holding leads.

Matt Creel has tag-teamed with Dill as the most effective options out of the pen. Creel has posted a 3-0 record with a 0.87 ERA over ten-and-a-third innings of work.

Keeping a positive outlook

Though the Cougars have lost four of their last five outings, Whitting said the team is displaying character through their difficult schedule.

“I have been most impressed with the team’s ability to go out and play hard from the first pitch to the last,” Whitting said.

“I think we’ve won a few from sheer effort. I’m really proud of how the kids have performed and the effort that has been given so far.”

The contest against the Cowboys is set to start at 6:30 p.m. at Cougar Field.

The Cougars have a quick turnaround, with a game against neighbor TSU at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Cougar Field.

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