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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Baseball

Cougars even up Silver Glove series with shutout win over Rice


Sophomore Lael Lockhart Jr. started his first game at pitcher for the Cougars and threw three scoreless innings. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Houston prevailed over Rice 1-0 in a long, three-hour bout Tuesday night at Schroeder Park.

It was the second game in the Silver Glove series, which has been running since 1998, but the cross-town rivalry has spanned more than 50 years. Houston lost last year’s series two games to one and started this year’s with a 4-3 loss at Rice’s Reckling Park.

This game was marked by multiple walks and errors that gave and took away opportunities in a moment’s notice. Of the nine Owls who reached base, seven were via walk.

Sophomore Lael Lockhart Jr. started his first game at pitcher with mixed results. Lockhart ended up pitching three innings with three strikeouts, four walks and no runs allowed.

The Cougars had a chance to get on the board in the second inning. The bases were loaded with two outs, but an athletic play by Owls’ senior third basemen Ryan Chandler stopped the Cougars and left the game scoreless.

Lockhart ran into trouble in the second inning after walking three batters but was able to strikeout the last man to end the inning and prevent any runs.

The performance wasn’t perfect, but head coach Todd Whitting was optimistic about Lockhart’s future.

“We just need to pitch him more. He’s one of our better arms, but because he’s so valuable with his bat (he hasn’t pitched much),” said Whitting.

Sophomore Fred Villareal took over for Lockhart on the mound after the third inning and threw a strikeout, allowed two hits and earned eight ground outs to keep it scoreless through the sixth.

The Cougars had little success batting the early loaded bases until the seventh inning came along.

Junior Grayson Padgett hit a line drive over second base to get to first, then senior Cooper Coldiron sacrifice-bunted to get Padgett to second. A balk by Rice’s pitcher sent Padgett to third, and then senior Connor Hollis smacked a ball up the middle to send Padgett home for the game-winning run.

Sophomore Carter Henry replaced Villareal in the seventh and threw three scoreless innings to close out the game for the Cougars.

“Our pitching always keeps us in the games. Getting to the next pitch and not holding on to your previous at-bats is what we live by, and these one-run games, you really have to buy into that,” Hollis said.

The win was the eighth one-run win and fifth shutout of the season for the Cougars. The final game of the Silver Glove series is May 15 at Constellation Field in Sugar Land.

Houston will go on the road to New Orleans to face Tulane this weekend then return to start the Sanders Cup against Sam Houston next Tuesday.

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