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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Sports

Cougars take down Texas A’M


The Cougars are on a mission to move into discussion for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but they desperately needed a win against Collegiate Baseball No. 21 Texas A&M to stay on track.

Consider that part of the mission accomplished.

The Cougars jumped on the struggling Aggies from the outset and never let up in Tuesday’s 9-2 victory before a crowd of 3,630 at Olsen Field in College Station, extending their season-long win streak to seven games with their first upset of a ranked opponent.

With 10 victories in their last 12 games, the Cougars (14-17) are inching closer to returning to .500 for the first time since Feb. 24.

Surprisingly, this matchup wasn’t really competitive.

The Cougars took advantage of a couple of Texas A&M three-base errors and a clutch three-run homer by catcher Chris Wallace to take a 5-0 lead after four innings. UH right-hander Mo Wiley (2-1) provided a quality start with 5 1/3 shutout innings and a career-high six strikeouts, and the bullpen kept the shell-shocked Aggies in check for the rest of the way.

UH wasn’t particularly sharp on defense, committing five errors, but Texas A&M (20-12) wasn’t much better with three errors en route to dropping its third decision in the last four games.

Fortunately for the Cougars, the errors didn’t prevent them from snagging a much-needed win over the Aggies, who entered the contest with a Ratings Percentage Index of 29.

The Cougars took a 1-0 lead when center fielder Zak Presley reached on a three-base, throwing error by Aggies starter Chad Sherman (0-1) and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the first.

But the real damage occurred in the third when the Cougars placed runners at first and second with one out. Sherman got Caleb Ramsey to fly out to left field for the second out of the inning. The next batter, Wallace, sent the first offering he received over the center field wall, just beyond the grasp of leaping Aggies outfielder Kyle Colligan, for a three-run shot that increased UH’s lead to 4-0.

The homer probably had a special meaning for Wallace, who suffered a devastating injury when he was struck below the right eye by a pitch in a 5-3 loss to the Aggies on March 1. Wallace missed 18 games after having facial reconstructive surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone, but he has been on a tear since his April 1 return, batting 10-of-23 with four doubles, four homers and 16 RBIs in five games.

The Cougars received another gift in the fourth when Taylor White reached on a three-base, throwing error by Aggies reliever Kyle Thebeau and scored on Ty Stuckey’s single to right field.

Blake Kelso led off the fifth with a solo homer off Thebeau and Stuckey hit an RBI-double in the sixth to increase the Cougars’ advantage to 7-0. The Cougars tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth and the Aggies scored two in the ninth to avoid the shutout.


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