Houston to face top teams

The Cougars attempted to slay a giant in their last game, but were trampled with ease.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they could be in for similar treatment at this weekend’s Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park.

UH, which dropped a 9-2 decision to Collegiate Baseball No. 10 Rice on Wednesday, will face three of the nation’s most talented teams in the premiere tournament, opening against No. 13 Baylor at 3:30 p.m. today.

The Cougars will face No. 15 California-Irvine at noon Saturday and No. 6 Texas A&M in the tournament finale at 6 p.m. Sunday. The six-team competition also includes Rice and No. 21 UCLA.

So far, the Cougars (2-3) have delivered uneven performances. With an inconsistent pitching staff and offense, they’ve been outscored 41-16 through their first five games. The Cougars’ overall earned-run average is 6.6. They have also struggled to hold runners on base, allowing 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts.

‘We’ve got quality opponents (this weekend), and we’re going to have to ratchet up our game,’ head coach Rayner Noble said.

UH will send left-hander Wes Musick (0-1) to the mound against Baylor. Musick, who went 8-4 with a 4.35 ERA last season, was roughed up a bit in his last start, surrendering three runs on seven hits in four innings in Friday’s season-opening 16-2 loss to Kansas State.

He won’t have it any easier against the Bears, who enter the weekend on a three-game winning streak. Baylor (4-1) broke out the bats in a big way against Houston Baptist on Wednesday in Waco, recording 13 hits in a 15-4 win.

The Bears will start right-hander Kendal Volz, who helped Team USA win gold at last summer’s World University Baseball Championship.

Noble altered his weekend pitching rotation, opting to start left-hander Ty Stuckey against UC-Irvine (3-1) over right-hander Jared Ray, who was roughed up for five runs (zero earned) in Wednesday’s loss to Rice. Stuckey, who went 3-4 with a 6.54 ERA in 2008, gave up two runs during 3 2/3 innings of relief in Saturday’s 9-2 loss to Kansas State.

UC-Irvine’s projected Saturday starter is Christian Bergman (1-0). The right-hander had a decent outing in his last start, allowing four runs (one earned) on seven hits in eight innings in a 5-4 win over Hawaii on Saturday.

UH right-hander Frank Corolla will get the start against Texas A&M (5-1). Corolla made his first start in Sunday’s 3-2, 10-inning win over Kansas State, receiving a no-decision after giving up one unearned run on six hits with three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

The Aggies will probably oppose Corolla with either Alex Wilson or Clayton Ehlert. Both right-handers helped Texas A&M sweep Wright State in a four-game series last weekend, as Wilson tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings to earn his first win of the season.

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