Cougars pass first road test

It didn’t look pretty, but the Cougars will take Tuesday’s 7-5 victory against Stephen F. Austin at Jaycees Field in Nacogdoches.

The Cougars (2-2) cruised through six innings of timely hits and masterful wizardry from freshman starter Michael Goodnight, building an early 7-0 cushion.

However, the lead shrunk when SFA (1-3) tagged Goodnight and relievers Mo Wiley and Matt Taylor for three runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Lumberjacks put runners at first and second base against left-hander Donnie Joseph with one out in the ninth, prompting UH head coach Rayner Noble to search within the depths of his bullpen for a stopper.

Noble found his answer in right-hander Chris Wright.

With All-America closer Chase Dempsay unavailable after tossing 3 2/3 innings in Sunday’s 3-2, 10-inning win against Kansas State, Wright took the mound. He gave up an RBI-double to Zach Gardner and an RBI-groundout to Tanner Hines, but induced a fly out from Sean Meyers to end the game and preserve Goodnight’s first collegiate win.

The Cougars took advantage of three SFA errors in the first inning to take a quick 4-0 lead.

Shortstop Blake Kelso led off the game with a hard single down the left field line and advanced to second on an error by SFA left fielder Justin Long. Center fielder Zak Presley reached on a fielding error after laying down a bunt, allowing Kelso to move to third.

Dempsay, who was the designated hitter, drove in Kelso with a groundout to second base. First baseman Chris Wallace followed with a walk, and outfielder Caleb Ramsey reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases.

This was the perfect setup for outfielder William Kankel’s sharp single into right field, which scored Wallace and Presley and gave the Cougars a 3-0 lead.

The Cougars added another run when third baseman David Murphy reached on a fielder’s choice, and Ramsey scored on a throwing error.’ ‘ ‘

The Cougars increased their lead to 7-0 on Murphy’s RBI-single and second baseman Taylor White’s two-run double in the third inning.

Noble went to his bullpen in the bottom of the sixth, ending a solid collegiate debut for Goodnight, who gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.

The Lumberjacks began their comeback attempt in that frame, scoring three runs off three hits, but a spectacular throw from Presley nailed SFA catcher Joe Staley at home and prevented a fourth run.

The Cougars will now turn their attention to crosstown rival and Collegiate Baseball No. 10 Rice, which they’ll face at 4 p.m. today at Reckling Park. It will be the home opener for the Owls, who dropped two of three games to Cal Poly last weekend.

The Owls lost several key players from last year’s College World Series team, including a majority of their pitching staff. However, they do return ace Ryan Berry and have a plethora of talented freshman.

Today’s game will be the first of five meetings between the schools to decide the winner of the Silver Glove Series Trophy. The Cougars will send right-hander John Touchton to the mound.

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