Cougars overcome shaky first inning for comfortable win
UH emerged from its season opener with a 9-3 win against Northeastern University thanks to pitching, batting and a notable piece of fielding. The effects of its new systems and tweaking were key to the five run third inning that was the driving force behind the debut win.
UH had a rough start though.
Senior pitcher Matt Hernandez was a little shaky in his initial outing, allowing the Huskies to take a 2-0 lead. Head coach Todd Whitting acknowledged this but shrugged it off after the game.
“Herny was good. He got a little roughed up in the first inning, but I thought that the whole team was jittery. It didn’t surprise me at all,” Whitting said. “And even though Herny is a senior, it’s his first time out. Once he was able to get his fastball down, he was tough.”
In the process of getting the win, Hernandez gave up two runs on nine hits while amassing five strikeouts across six innings, pitchers freshman Jared West and junior Chase Wellbrock held the Huskies to three runs over nine innings.
A few errors dotted the Cougars play early on, but Whitting attributed them to opening day nerves.
“Heck, I was a little bit overanxious,” Whitting said.
The hallmark of the win was the five run third inning, led mainly by freshman infielders Justin Montemayor and Josh Vidales. Montemayor made the most of the first pitch he saw as a college baseball player. His first hit was a homerun he whalloped to deep right field.
Vidales went 4 for 5 with a two-run double in the five run third. Junior catcher Caleb Barker also came up big with a single while the bases were loaded to give the Cougars a lead they would never lose. Barker and junior infielder Frankie Ratcliff picked up another RBI to finish with two.
“It was a complete team effort tonight. We came out a little shaky, but we weren’t nervous as much as we were anxious,” Vidales said. “We were able to bounce back on Montemayor’s bomb. Ashford’s throw to home really changed the momentum for us to get the victory tonight.”
The UH defense got into a groove by the top of the third.Northeastern was threatening to turn the game around after a two-run single, but freshman outfielder Ashford Fulmer came up with the ball and was able to throw a runner out before the Huskies could get another run on the board.
“In 18 years, that’s the best throw I’ve ever seen from the outfield,” Whitting said. “That is absolutely the best throw I’ve ever seen. I thought it changed the game.”
The three-game series against Northeastern continues Saturday at 6:30pm at Cougar Field. The Sunday game has been rescheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 11:30 a.m.