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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Baseball

Three homeruns blast Cougars past Green Wave


Junior catcher Connor Wong became the second Cougar to hit 3 home runs in one game in 2017 in Sunday’s 12-2 victory. | Sarah Hoffman/The Cougar

After falling to Sam Houston State University last Tuesday, the Cougars returned to action over the weekend for a three-game series against AAC foe Tulane.

The Cougars took 2-out-of-3 from the Green Wave, improving to 27-12 overall, and moving into tie for first place in the AAC. The series was highlighted by a thrilling performance by junior catcher Connor Wong on Sunday, hitting three home runs on seven total pitches.

With normal starter sophomore Trey Cumbie out with illness, sophomore right-hander Mitch Ullom got the start Friday night. In a long-scoring affair throughout, Ullom pitched well on short notice, giving up two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings of work. Despite being behind 2-1 when he was taken out, the Cougars were well positioned to come back and take the win.

That wouldn’t come to pass as the Green Wave put up four in the top of the ninth to build their lead up to 7-1 and make a comeback unlikely. Freshman Fred Villarreal took the loss, giving up four runs on four hits and walking two in 2 2/3 innings of relief.

The lone run for the Cougars came off a solo home run by junior outfielder Corey Julks, his second of the season. After starting off the season slow, Julks has been impressive lately, reaching base in 21 consecutive games before an 0-for-4 outing on Saturday.

Despite feeling better after a day off Cumbie had his worst outing of the season on Saturday, giving up six runs on seven hits in only 4 2/3 innings. Sophomore reliever Aaron Fletcher continued his strong season, earning the win after giving up only one unearned run on three hits in 4 1/3 innings.

After falling behind 7-3 early, the Cougars completed the comeback, scoring five runs over the final three innings for the walk-off victory. Houston plated three in the seventh and one in the eighth to tie it up at 7-7 to head into the ninth.

After a fourth-straight shutout inning from Fletcher, redshirt freshman outfielder Wendell Champion II reached safely on a Tulane error. After advancing to second on a sacrifice by Wong, Champion scored the game-winning run on a double by junior second baseman Connor Hollis. It was the first walk-off win for the Cougars in 2017 and first of Hollis’ career.

The Cougar offense continued their strong play Sunday, scoring 12 runs en route to a 12-2 run-rule victory in seven innings.

The Cougars got off to an early 9-0 lead in the first, highlighted by two Wong home runs. He added a third bomb in the fifth, finishing 4-for-5 with three home runs and four RBIs.

After going 0-4 on Saturday to break his on-base streak, Julks rebounded on Sunday going 4-for-4 with one RIB and one run scored. After leading off the seventh with a Wong triple, the Cougars plated two in the inning to drive their lead to 10 and end the game.

Senior pitcher John King threw a gem, earning the win and giving up only two runs, on earned, on six hits in 6 innings.

The Cougars return to action on Tuesday for their final id-week game of the season as they welcome Sam Houston State for game two of the Don Sanders Cup with first pitched scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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