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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Baseball

Cougars look to rebound against Pirates


After dropping three of their last four and hoping for a rebound, the Cougars will host ECU for a critical three-game series. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

After falling to Central Florida on Friday, Houston’s 11-game winning streak was finally put to an end. It was the Cougars’ longest streak in 15 years. They were hoping to extend the streak to 15 by sweeping the weekend series against the Knights.

The Cougars return to action this weekend losers of three of their last four games after falling to Rice on Tuesday. Houston (20-8) hosts East Carolina (18-12) for a three-game series at Schroeder Park.

The Pirates come to Houston after losing four straight, getting swept by UConn this weekend and losing to North Carolina on Tuesday. As the only team without a conference win, they rank last in the American.

Despite the poor start to East Carolina’s season, Houston must not underestimate the team’s abilities. East Carolina was ranked by many in the top 15 to start the season, and at only 1-2 in the conference, the Cougars need to win the series.

Despite their record of underperforming, the Pirates feature one of the top offenses in the AAC and lead the conference in hitting. They are led by freshman Dusty Baker (.375), senior Eric Tyler (.352) and freshman Charlie Yorgen (.348). Tyler and Yorgen rank No. 6 and 8 respectively in the conference in hitting.

Even though the Houston pitchers haven’t done well recently, they are still one of the best staffs in the nation. Their 2.40 ERA ranks No. 5 in the NCAA, with the Pirates more than a full run higher at 3.85.

East Carolina features two strong pitchers in sophomore Chris Holba and freshman Trey Benton. Holba (1.95) and Benton (2.09) rank No. 3 and 5 respectively in conference ERA, with only sophomore Trey Cumbie ranking better for the Cougars.

Offensively, Cougar junior shortstop Jake Scheiner continued his hitting dominance this past weekend. He’s tied for No. 29 nationally in batting average and hit home run No. 10 on Saturday, a two-run blast that put the Cougars up 3-0 over the Knights, giving them their only win of the series.

Cumbie leads the way for Cougar pitchers with an ERA of 0.74. Cumbie garnered attention when he was named AAC Player of the Week after pitching a shutout at then-No. 10 Louisiana.

Junior Seth Romero’s move to the bullpen after violating team travel rules last weekend allows Cumbie gets the start on Friday, with sophomore Mitch Ullom following on Saturday and senior John King closing things out on Sunday.

The series is scheduled to begin Friday at 6:30 p.m. with Saturday’s game at 6:30 p.m. and concluding at 1:00 p.m.

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