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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Cougars bounce back from ‘Rice hangover’

UH took down Memphis with a strong pitching effort. | Jenna Frenzel/The Daily Cougar

UH took down Memphis with a strong pitching effort.  |  Jenna Frenzel/The Daily Cougar

Being perhaps the most superstitious of all the organized sports, baseball has always found a way to embrace its quirks and turn them into accepted nuances of the game. Head coach Todd Whitting said one of these unseen baseball gremlins was afoot at the start of the series against Memphis, which is now tied at one win apiece, while UH sits at 21-5 and 17-2 at home.

“We played last night with a hangover,” Whitting said after UH’s 6-3 win against Memphis. “We played the Rice Hangover. I truly believe that, and I don’t know if we’re fully out of it yet. We got lucky. We played as bad of baseball as you can possibly play for two and a half innings, but we just kept grinding away, got a couple of big base running plays and late in the game take the lead.”

The hangover was at its worst during the first two and a half innings, with UH spotting Memphis three runs early on before eventually sobering up enough to put three runs up in both the third and the seventh. The turnaround in the third was sparked by two singles, one each by sophomore second baseman Josh Vidales and sophomore right fielder Kyle Survance. Survance was also alert on the base path, stealing two bases. The lead was set at 6-3 with a two-run home run by sophomore center fielder Ashford Fulmer, his second of the year.

“Huge win for the team tonight,” Survance said. “Coming back from a tough loss last night, when we didn’t have the bats going, we were able to turn it around tonight. I’m seeing the ball well lately and hitting better with two strikes. We just have to keep working each game.”

UH pitching, even while the defense struggled, was par for the course of its own standards, with starter Jake Lemoine, a sophomore righthander, going 5.2 innings, striking out four, allowing only two earned runs and walking none. Despite the early leaky defense, Whitting categorized Lemoine’s performance as “awesome.” Lefty senior reliever Tyler Ford pitched 3.1 innings to earn his fourth win of the season against no losses.

“I felt good out there tonight,” Ford said. “I was able to come in and pound the zone with my fastball. The objective is to get guys out, and I felt like we did a good job of that tonight.”

On the prospect of winning the series, Whitting seemed ambivalent. The eventual question of whether this win would provide energy for the 1 p.m. Sunday rubber match elicited a laugh and a shake of the head.

“I stopped trying to guess that stuff a long time ago,” Whitting said. “I’d like to hope so.”

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