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Friday, August 19, 2022

Baseball

UH has success while on rebound from sweep


UH took down Sam Houston 5-2 in a midweek contest to bounce back after a weekend sweep from top 10 foe Louisville.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

UH took down Sam Houston 5-2 in a midweek contest to bounce back after a weekend sweep from top 10 foe Louisville. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

UH hopes a midweek win against Sam Houston in Huntsville means its toe-stubbing against Louisville has relegated itself to the past.

After getting swept by Louisville last weekend, UH rebounded for a 5-2 win against Sam Houston on Tuesday. Head coach Todd Whitting, who captains a 27-9 ship going into the series with USF, which will start Thursday evening, sported an above-the-clouds attitude toward the arduous nature of the long season.

“I like to think we’re going to play really well this weekend,” Whitting said. “The thing about baseball is that the past never equals the future. The last game you played is usually not a dictator of how you’re going to play. All you can do is just prepare your team and be ready.”

Standing at 4-5 in American Athletic Conference play, the three-game series against the Bulls (21-5, 7-5) signifies a return to conference play for the No. 12-ranked Cougars.

“South Florida is a really good team,” Whitting said. “They’re a contender in our league right now. Last year, they were, to the very end, about to win the Big East. (Head) coach (Lelo) Prado does a really good job over there. They’re not gonna come in and hand us anything. We’re going to have to play well this weekend.”

Friday night starter Aaron Garza, who takes the mound Thursday, voiced enthusiasm for a return to conference play.

“We bounced back against Sam, and we’re just excited to get back into conference play and try and get ahead in some of the standings right now,” said Garza, a junior right-hander who has been named to the Golden Spikes watch list.

Sophomore right fielder Kyle Survance, who sports a .319 batting average and 19 stolen bases, has seen the quick, spark-like start before.

UH leapt to a high-win, low-loss record last year as part of what has been called the Miracle at Cougar Field, but the team struggled down the stretch and didn’t earn an NCAA tournament bid. The swift right fielder said he feels the squad is different than the previous season, which saw a good chunk of the team composed of freshmen and transfers.

“I think we kind of know what to expect,” Survance said, “whereas last year, it was our first college season, and we didn’t really know what to expect. I think this year we have a little bit more experience, and we know what’s gonna happen, and I think we can try and push the envelope a little bit more than we did last year.”

Though his game is based on speed, Survance thinks that overall, the game has slowed down for him and the team.

“The game is a lot easier this year. I think that’s how it is with everyone who was a freshman last year,” said Survance, who acknowledged the confidence boost that comes with a season of collegiate baseball under their collective belts.

Maturity notwithstanding, the workman-like attitude of the team is evident.

“I think we feel pretty confident. We know they’re going to be a good squad, but I think we’ve got a great team and we just gotta play better then they do,” Survance said.

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