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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Baseball

Survance steals show, bases during Cougars’ conference opener


Sophomore outfielder Kyle Survance's work with the bat and his feet helped propel the Cougars to a series win against Memphis. | Jenna Frenzel/The Daily Cougar

Sophomore outfielder Kyle Survance’s work with the bat and his feet helped propel the Cougars to a series win against Memphis.  |  Jenna Frenzel/The Daily Cougar

This weekend’s successful conference opener could accurately be described as the Kyle Survance Show.

The sophomore right fielder stole six bases, went 5-11 at the plate and looked like the Freshman All-American he was voted after the end of last season as UH took two of three games against Memphis. Behind him and a pitching staff that allowed only seven runs in three games, UH defeated Memphis 6-3 on Saturday and 6-2 Sunday after dropping the opener 2-1 Friday.

Survance, who was named the American Athletic Conference player of the week on Monday and is hitting .340 on the season, was one of the driving forces behind the Cougars’ conference home stand. He received what some would call the ultimate compliment from his head coach after the game.

“He has the ability to be the best player on the field every time we play,” said head coach Todd Whitting. “He can do so many things. He’s a great outfielder with a good arm. He can really, really run. He’s a threat. He’s that guy that should be the one that the other dugout is trying to figure out when he’s going to come up to bat.”

Survance happily acknowledged that his head coach’s praise could serve as a boost to his self-esteem.

“It helps (my confidence) a lot to have coach Whitting to say that about me. It gives me a lot more confidence going into games this season,” Survance said.

His day on the base paths, which included swiping two bags in the eighth inning, was something that he said he sensed early might work out in the game. The two steals helped the Cougars score three insurance runs to put the game away with senior pitcher Chase Wellbrock on the mound.

This offensive performance, combined with the work of pitchers Jake Lemoine, Tyler Ford and Wellbrock, guided UH through the weekend. UH batters excelled at procuring their runs with two outs and in later innings.

“Two out of three against a team as good as Memphis? I’ll take it,” said Whitting, who eschewed any excess stress from his team’s late-game theatrics.

Wellbrock, the winner of game three of the series, downplayed any sort of overriding significance linked to an early in-conference series.

“It’s a big boost to this program,” Wellbrock said, who worked 2.2 innings on Sunday. “We’ve kind of been on a roll, so this honestly feels like another win. It’s a good start for the rest of the season.”

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