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Monday, July 22, 2019


Cougars need strong batting to overcome high-scoring Bearkats

Houston’s sluggers have hit just 12 home runs this season compared to Sam Houston’s 33. The Bearkats have not been shutout a single time this year, while Houston has only once. Thomas Dwyer / The Cougar

The Houston Cougars — 21-14 — will kick off the Sanders Cup against the Sam Houston Bearkats —   24 -11 — at Schroeder Park tonight in an I-45 clash.

This past weekend, Houston lost a series to Tulane while Sam Houston defeated rivals Stephen F. Austin. But both teams have been shaky this month, as the Cougars’ game record is 4-3 while the Bearkats’ is 5-4.

Houston is still struggling to find pitching consistency this month. They have had two shutout wins but also allowed three eight-run games.

Houston’s batters had a great Friday night, scoring 16 runs in a losing effort against Tulane, but they were unable to keep up that pace during Sunday’s double header.

Houston’s offense will likely need to heat up again, as Sam Houston has scored two or fewer runs this season just five times, though two of those have come in their last five outings.

Bearkat senior Blake Chisolm led the team against the Lumberjacks over the weekend with a .500 batting average and three RBIs. Chisolm and junior Hunter Hearn lead Sam Houston’s hitters with a combined 13 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Houston’s two best hitters, sophomore Jared Triolo and junior Joe Davis, have a combined five home runs and 42 RBIs.

After those two, Houston’s offensive production dips off while Sam Houston has a trio of hitters hitting over .300 with a combined seven home runs and 53 RBIs.

On the mound, Houston’s two leading candidates to pitch are sophomore Lael Lockhart Jr., who had his first start last week, and sophomore Brayson Hurdsman, who has started three midweek games this season.

Lockhart threw three scoreless innings in his first start and has a 1.00 ERA through nine innings pitched with just six hits. Hurdsman has a 5.11 ERA through 24.2 innings pitched with 24 hits, but he has also pitched against some of Houston’s toughest opponents.

Sam Houston does not have a clear pitcher for Tuesday, and only two pitchers have started more than one midweek game this season. A dozen pitchers were used over the weekend, so the Bearkats may have to dig deep into the bullpen.

The first pitch will be thrown at 6:30 p.m. tonight, while the second game of the series is tomorrow night in Huntsville.

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