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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Baseball

Cougars ring in Senior Night with victory over Central Florida


Even before he jogged out of the UH bullpen to work 3.1 innings, get his 10th save of the season and seal UH’s 35th win of the season, senior closer Chase Wellbrock had noted that his time at Cougar Field, at least in the regular season, was drawing to a close.

Wellbrock, UH’s all-time leader in saves, came to the realization a few days in advance of the weekend series.

“I kind of thought of it the other day when I was getting tickets for my family,” Wellbrock said after his 45-pitch performance. “I only saw a few games left. Right now, it hasn’t really hit me just yet, but I’m glad. I want to keep playing and keep pushing towards the postseason.

The game, which was dramatic for a late-season American Athletic Conference match, was bolstered by falling on Senior Day, on which players Landon Appling, Caleb Barker, Tyler Ford, Casey Grayson, Jacob Lueneberg, Frankie Ratcliff, Daniel Smith, Aaron Stewart and Chase Wellbrock were honored during a pre-game ceremony.

The game was back and forth against Central Florida and saw UH take the lead for good early on a three-RBI double by first baseman Casey Grayson, who reached base in his 21st consecutive game. Tyler Ford notched his sixth win of the season against no losses after he relieved junior starter David Longville from 4.1 innings of work.

“It’s good to come out and play in front of the home fans who have supported you all season. They appreciated the seniors today, and it was good to perform like that,” Grayson said. “It was a great day for us, especially because we were able to win today. To leave here with a win, is huge for us.”

UH head coach Todd Whitting pointed out the simple link between winning and fun.

“The big deal was the clutch hits,” Whitting said. “We had a lot of clutch hits, and today was about playing a tough team and embracing the situations instead of being afraid. We talked about turning fear into fun before the game. It’s fun to go up there and drive in runs.”

The notion of fun did not escape left-fielder Landon Appling, who was all smiles after the game.

“Man, it was fun,” Appling said. “We’ve had a good run for the past four years and it’s been fun, but the most important thing was to get the win today, and we got that.”

Like Wellbrock, Appling had some time to think about his dwindling regular season time at Cougar Field.

“I’m going to miss this place a lot. I have a lot of memories out on this field and I’ve met a lot of great people playing here. It’s definitely been a fun ride.”

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