Whitting earns win No. 300 in Tuesday night showdown
Houston and its cousin Sam Houston State went head-to-head on Tuesday night, and UH came away with the close 2-1 win to take game one of the Don Sanders Cup — but the biggest news of the night was that it was head coach Todd Whitting’s 300th win.
“Well… you just try to get 300 more, I guess. The most important one is the next one,” Whitting said.
Redshirt freshman Derrick Cherry continued his hot streak with a lead off double to start the second inning. Freshman Johnathon Thomas followed that up with a two out, 0-2 count double hit to send Cherry home for the first points of the game.
Houston had another chance to score in the bottom of the third after senior Grayson Padgett singled and then stole a base with two outs and senior leader Joe Davis at the plate.
That prompted the Bearkats to walk Davis and bring up Cherry back to the plate. Cherry made good contact with a hit, but it wound up in the hands of a fielder to end the inning.
Houston got on the board again in the fifth inning after freshman Brad Burckel got a lead off single. Sophomore Kyle Lovelace sac bunted, then Padgett grounded out to get Burckel to third base.
Junior Jared Triolo stepped up the plate and delivered a line drive to left field to send Burckel home and make it 2-0.
The Bearkats were able to respond in the sixth after sophomore Eric Bohnert was hit by a pitch to start the inning. He was advanced with a sac bunt and then a single to right field got him home.
Sophomore Clay Aguilar pitched a full seven innings and allowed just three hits and one run in his fourth start of the season. Whitting praised Aguilar for coming back from an injury last year and said he was still finding his groove.
“When guys are post-surgery, they have good days and bad days and right now he is stacking up a lot of good days. When he goes out and competes and trusts his stuff, he’s good,” Whitting said.
Junior Fred Villareal was substituted in to start the eighth and picked up right where he left off from his last outing. Villareal finished the last two innings and allowed just one hit to close the game.
Houston will play Sam Houston again on April 7 at Huntsville, and then the final game of the series is at a neutral site in Sugarland’s Constellation field on April 23.
The Cougars will now go on the road for four games, one against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks on Wednesday and a weekend series against the Memphis Tigers. Whitting said he was happy to play so many games in a row to help refine the team.
“Baseball is a repetition sport and you got to play it. I’m looking forward to the challenge of Stephen F. Austin and on the road in conference play,” Whitting said. “We just gotta take it one game at a time.”
After the road trip, Houston will return home to play FIU at 6:30 p.m. on April 3.