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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Baseball

Cougars win first series


Frankie Ratcliff connects on a single that scores two runs. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Frankie Ratcliff connects on a single that scores two runs. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Despite dropping the last game of the series, the Cougars won their first series of season, 2-1, against the Northeastern University Huskies.

The opening series saw both freshman and transfers step up, including five pitchers who made their Cougar premieres on Sunday. Head coach Todd Whitting said the Cougars got complacent in the final game of the series.

“We learned an extremely valuable lesson for a young ball club. You have to come out and play every day,” Whitting said.

“I sensed after the first two games that we were patting ourselves on the back a little bit. I’ve been warning the team for two days, after Friday’s game and yesterday: If you didn’t come out ready to play, that team was going to kick our rear.”

Sunday, the Huskies roughed up seven Cougar pitchers for nine runs on 14 hits, leaving UH with its first loss of the season and several experiences to learn from. Shortstop Frankie Ratcliff and catcher Caleb Barker, both juniors, drove in a run each.

For Barker it was his third straight game driving in an RBI and the third RBI of the season for Ratcliff. The Cougars’ other run was by virtue of an errant throw on the Huskie’s behalf.

The Cougars’ batters, while sometimes handcuffed by Huskie pitching, were again able to put up nine hits for the third time in as many games.

While it wasn’t the end result the team was hoping for, the team now has three games under its belt, and the Cougars are already working on getting a feel for their news systems and players.

“We have to regroup. It’s just one game, not the end of our season,” Whitting said. “This is a great learning experience for us, and we’ll see how we bounce back against Sam Houston.”

The pitching staff, which has seen action from multiple relievers in all three games of the young season, saw solid performances over the weekend. Starters Austin Pruitt and Matt Hernandez have pitched well, showing command of their pitches.

So far the teams have averaged 3.33 runs, with junior transfer Tyler Ford getting his first save of the season on Saturday. Hernandez and Pruitt are tied for the team lead with one win.

Defensively, redshirt freshman Ashford Fulmer, has already made several plays that have earned widespread praise from his coaches.

“He’s a great competitor, no question about it,” Whitting said. “Along with a lot of the other young players we have, he has a lot of talent.”

Offensively, catcher Barker leads the team with four RBIs while freshman Josh Vidales is batting .500. Fellow freshman Justin Montemayor has the team’s only homerun.

The Cougars’ depth will be one of their best qualities, Barker said.

“Any night anybody can step up and have a big night for us. Our focus is on having quality at-bats, passing the bat to the next guy, and scoring a lot of runs that way,” Barker said.

The Cougars will embark on their first roadtrip of the season, a trip to Hunstville to take on the the Sam Houston State Bearkats.

Vidales said the team will work through adversity.

“You gotta win every pitch, and if something goes wrong, you just shake it off and come back the next pitch,” Vidales said.

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