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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Baseball

Freshman All-American pitchers looking to make strides in year two


Now in his second year, sophomore righty Mitch Ullom is a key part of a Cougar rotation that ranks No. 4 in the NCAA in ERA | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Pitching has been the main contributor to the success of head coach Todd Whitting’s baseball team during the last few seasons. As in all levels of the sport, a great starting rotation usually leads to wins. Last season, the Cougars received two new additions who are looking to take the next step in year two.

Sophomores Mitch Ullom and Trey Cumbie joined a pitching staff including Andrew Lantrip and Seth Romero. Pitching behind the solidified starters, the two became integral parts of a team that reached the American Conference Championship game. For their efforts, they were both named Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans.

In his first season with the Cougars, Ullom led the team in wins, compiling a record of 7-4 in 14 appearances, 12 starts. During that time span, he compiled 39 strikeouts and pitched three complete games. Ullom ended his freshman year with an ERA of 2.88 over 78 innings pitched.

Cumbie was primarily a member of the bullpen in his first year. He made 15 appearances but only started 5 games, compiling a record of 5-2 on the year.

In 56 innings, Cumbie struck out 42 batters while walking only nine. He ended the year with an ERA of 1.29, holding opposing batters to a batting average of .214.

Goals to improve in year two

With the departure of Andrew Lantrip for the MLB, a large gap was left in the pitching staff. While Seth Romero is still the clear ace, Ullom and Cumbie have been given the opportunity to make an even greater impact on the starting rotation.

It is too early in the season for their statistics to have great meaning. But at the moment, Ullom’s start to the season has not been favorable.

In three starts Ullom has a record of 1-1, striking out 13 batters but racking up an ERA of 3.94 in 16 innings pitched. Ullom is currently last among pitchers in ERA, hits (22) and runs (11).

Cumbie has been moved up to the starting rotation this season. In 14.0 innings he compiled 1-0 record and a team-leading 0.64 ERA. In three starts Cumbie has given up only two runs, while striking out 16 batters. He recently had a career night against Prairie View A&M, when he struck out nine in six innings.

What should be considered when comparing the two is the opponents each have faced. Only Ullom has gone up against nationally ranked competition, No. 12 Cal State Fullerton — his only loss so far. The series against Baylor will present a great opportunity for them to test themselves, should they be called up.

It is clear that the two have the talent to succeed in the American Conference. They still have work to do but by the time they start conference play, both Ullom and Cumbie should be ready to help bring their team another title.

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