Sleepy bats wake up
Through the first five innings of Tuesday’s contest at Cougar Field, UH was being no-hit, but after the sixth inning, the offense ignited for four runs and eight hits and the Cougars beat McNeese St. 4-1.
Before a sparse crowd of 776 fans, the Cougars came out of the gates slow. But after head coach Todd Whittting gathered the team in the dugout after the fifth inning for a motivational talk, the team responded and came out with a renewed vigor.
“I told the team that we have to do everything we can to win this game and what I told them in the fifth inning is that we’re not playing like a team that’s desperate to win the game,” Whitting said. “At this point we are desperate to win a game. We got to do anything we can to win a game.”
The Cougars showed a resilience that has been with them throughout the season, but hasn’t been reflected in the standings. They finally got some timely hitting and the pitching and defense showed up on a night that they needed them to.
“I thought the team played really hard tonight,” Whitting said. “(We’ve had) a lot of tough losses lately. We haven’t had a whole lot of luck. It was good to see us be able to regroup in the middle of the game.”
Starting pitcher Aaron Garza was on his way to another solid outing, but in the sixth inning, a line drive struck his right elbow, which forced a premature exit.
“Garza did an outstanding job,” Whitting said. “He was able to push through that barrier that he’s been at, at about 45-55 pitches. He was close to coming out of the game anyway. He pitched behind a little bit more than I’d like him to.
Garza pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts. There was no word on Garza’s condition immediately available after the game.
Mo Wiley entered the game in relief of Garza and was lights-out. He pitched 3 1/3 innings and shut out the Cowboys while only surrendering three hits to go along with his four strikeouts.
“It was nice to see Mo Wiley make an adjustment after not having a great weekend,” Whitting said. “He pitched a really good ballgame.”
The Cougars finally figured out McNeese St. starter Jason Gibson in the sixth inning when Taylor White laid down a well-executed drag bunt for UH’s first hit of the night. Two batters later, the Cougars got their second hit when Jake Runte singled to shortstop. UH had two runners in scoring position after Runte stole second base and Chase Jensen followed with a two-RBI single down the right field line to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead. Jensen leads the team with 23 RBIs.
In the following inning, the offense kept it going and scored two more runs. John Cannon singled in Price Jacobs, who led off the inning with a double to left field and Landon Appling drove in White who singled earlier in the frame to put the game at its final mark of 4-1.
“It’s pretty much indescribable how much we needed this win,” Wiley said. “This team plays hard each and every night. (This) time we put every part of the game together and just played a great ballgame and came out with a ‘W.’”