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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Baseball

Cougars set for pitching duel against No. 7 Titans


Junior Seth Romero anchors a rotation that ranks No. 4 in the NCAA with a 1.77 ERA. | Courtesy of Houston Athletics / @UHCougarBB

Coming off an impressive performance where they put 11 runs up on the No. 1 pitching staff in the nation, the No. 20 Cougars look to keep the momentum this weekend.

Now 6-2, the Cougars welcome No. 7 Cal State Fullerton (4-3) for a three-game series starting Friday night at Schroeder Park. Since falling to Missouri last Friday the Cougars have won four straight, outscoring their opponents 26-9 in the process.

They will have to work to keep up this offensive explosion against a Titans team that is ranked No. 7 in the nation with a 1.97 ERA. Led by junior right hander Connor Seabold (1-1, 2.77 ERA), the Titan rotation features three of the most dynamic arms in baseball.

Together with Seabold sophomore right Colton Eastman (0-0, 2.00) and junior southpaw John Gavin (2-0, 0.67), the Titans represent the best one through three the Cougars are likely to see all season.

The series should be quite the pitcher’s duel though as the Cougars rank slightly ahead of the Titans in almost every category. Ranked No. 4 in the NCAA with a 1.77 ERA, the Cougars are one of the few teams that can match the Titans arm-for-arm.

Junior left hander Seth Romero (1-1, 3.09) has turned it on after a disappointing 2016 season. The West Columbia native is currently No. 2 in the NCAA in strikeouts per nine innings (18.51) and No. 3 in total strikeouts (24).

Joined by sophomore right Mitch Ullom (1-0, 2.79) and senior southpaw John King (1-0, 1.12), the Cougars staff should have no problems against a Titan offense averaging only 4.1 runs per game.

Redshirt junior third baseman Taylor Bryant is the only Titan currently hitting above .300 with a .458 batting average. He leads them with 11 hits and four doubles while hitting one of the team’s two total home runs.

As a team, the Titans are hitting .220/.321/.326 while outscoring their opponents 29-28. Meanwhile, the Cougars are hitting .327/.407/.482 and have outscored opponents 48-24. Their 91 hits rank No. 30 in the country, behind only Central Florida in the American.

Five of the seven Cougars who have started all eight games are hitting above .300 with sophomore second baseman Jake Scheiner leading the way at .400. When they score outs, they tend to happen after the ball is in play, as the Cougars have struck out only 50 times in 278 at-bats.

The action starts Friday with first pitch scheduled at 6:30 p.m and continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The three-game series concludes Sunday afternoon with first pitch scheduled at 1:00 p.m.

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