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Friday, April 16, 2021

Baseball

A rivalry renewed: UH baseball hosts Texas for weekend series


Junior left-hander Robert Gasser has started off the season with a 1.80 ERA and struck out 10 in his first two starts of the 2021 UH baseball season | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

Junior left-hander Robert Gasser has started off the season with a 1.80 ERA and struck out 10 in his first two starts of the 2021 UH baseball season | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

An old Southwest Conference rivalry will be renewed as Houston baseball hosts No. 19 Texas for a three-game series over the weekend at Schroeder Park.

The two schools have a long history together, as the Cougars and Longhorns have met 129 times, beginning in 1958, with Texas leading the all-time series 95-32-2.

Texas head coach David Pierce and assistant coach Sean Allen both have strong connections to the Cougars program as both are UH alumnus’. Pierce played at UH from 1984-85 and later returned as the Cougars hitting coach in 2001-02. Allen took the diamond as a Cougar from 1998-01 and later served as the UH assistant coach from 2003-06.

While the two schools have not regularly played each other since the old Southwest Conference dissolved in 1996, both UH and Texas wanted to limit their travel during non-conference play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So Pierce called UH baseball head coach Todd Whitting and the two worked together to get a series on the schedule to bring the Longhorns to Houston to play a three-game series for the first time since 1996.

“It was a no-brainer to get this thing locked up and get (Texas) over here,” Whitting told reporters over Zoom.

Everyone in the UH program is certainly excited about renewing a rivalry with an old foe in Texas, making this weekend a little more special for the Cougars.

“We’re fired up,” senior outfielder Tyler Bielamowicz said. “It’s basically an in-state rival for us. We’re ready to kick things off and get things going down here in Houston.”

Junior left-hander Robert Gasser added to Bielamowicz’s statement, particularly focusing on how playing a nationally recognized team in Texas is an incredible opportunity for the Cougars to make a statement and prove that they should not be a team that is overlooked.

“It’s awesome,” Gasser said. “After last year we’re fighting to make a name for ourselves again and get ourselves back in the top 25. Playing a team like Texas will definitely get us there.”

Gasser, who is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA over his first two starts of the 2021 season, will take the mound for UH and face sophomore right-hander Ty Madden, who is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA for Texas, in the series opener Friday.

Sophomore right-hander Ben Sears will get the ball for the Cougars Saturday, facing off against junior right-hander Tristan Stevens.

Sophomore right-hander Kolby Kubichek will start Sunday’s series finale for the Longhorns against a UH pitcher that has yet to be determined.

Ultimately, this early season clash between two in-state powerhouses will serve as a good indicator of where each program stands while emphasizing areas both teams need to improve in.

“I think it’s a measuring stick for both teams this time of year,” Whitting said. “Although we won’t have the fans we usually have it’s going to be a Super Regional type matchup.”

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