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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Sports

Cougars hope to cool Cajuns


The Cougars hope that last weekend’s series win against Alabama-Birmingham is the first step in getting their season turned around, but before that can happen, they’ll have to shake their ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality.

The Cougars played some of their best baseball of the season to claim victories over UAB on Friday and Saturday. However, they returned to their careless ways in Sunday’s series finale, pitching poorly and making mind-boggling errors en route to a 10-2 loss that prevented them from recording their first three-game win streak of the season.

UH (6-16) will try to stay on the road to recovery in a matchup against Louisiana-Lafayette at 6:30 p.m. today at Cougar Field. The Cougars can only hope that their better side shows up to play.

‘It seems like we’re two different teams right now,’ closer Chase Dempsay said. ‘We can come out one time and be a great team, and at other times mental mistakes just kill us.’

At the root of the Cougars’ discomfort is a pitching staff that has been consistently inept with a cumulative ERA of 6.94. It also hasn’t helped that the defense has committed 40 errors, five coming in Sunday’s loss, and that opponents continue to wreak havoc on the base paths (58 stolen bases allowed in 71 attempts).

The problem of holding runners on base continues to be a work in progress for the Cougars’ primary catchers, freshmen John Cannon and Joey Cesario, and their most experienced catcher junior Chris Wallace, who is still rehabbing from a facial fracture that came after he was hit by a pitch in a game against Texas A&M on March 1. The infield, which has three freshmen seeing significant action, also has room for improvement.

Right-hander Mo Wiley will try to alleviate the pitching woes with today’s start against Louisiana-Lafayette.’

Wiley (0-1, 4.91 ERA) was roughed up a bit in his last start, lasting only 3 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks in an 8-1 loss to Collegiate Baseball No. 10 Rice on Wednesday. A similar outing from Wiley against Louisiana-Lafayette (10-9-1) could spell trouble for the Cougars.

‘I just hope that he goes out there and doesn’t walk and hit guys,’ head coach Rayner Noble said. ‘Every time we get into a game where we give up double-digit figures, our pitchers go out there and just walk and hit guys, and we don’t field it very well behind them. We’ve got to throw strikes to begin with and do a better job of throwing straight.’

Louisiana-Lafayette took out UH 6-1 in the teams’ first meeting on March 3, a game in which the Cougars’ offense and defense fell short. The Cougars out-hit the Ragin’ Cajuns eight to four, but stranded 10 base runners and committed three errors.

Louisiana-Lafayette enters today’s game on a four-game win streak after sweeping Arkansas-Little Rock in a three-game series last weekend. The Ragin’ Cajuns have been on a tear offensively, outscoring opponents 50-14 during their win streak.

UH has only one midweek game before traveling to New Orleans for a three-game series against C-USA powerhouse Tulane this weekend. The Cougars would love to have some momentum going into that series, but they’ll have to avoid another sloppy performance against Louisiana-Lafayette.

‘Against Lafayette, we’ve just got to come out and do the same things we did Friday and Saturday,’ Dempsay said. ‘Hopefully, we’ll keep on a good roll.’


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