Musick, Cougars dominate Tigers
UH left-hander Wes Musick could get used to being the Sunday starter.
Musick turned in his third consecutive strong start, tossing 6 1/3 solid innings and receiving adequate run support in an 8-5 win over Memphis in Sunday’s series finale at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn.
Riding Musick’s arm, the bullpen and an opportunistic offense, the Cougars (17-21, 7-5 Conference USA) prevailed in the rubber match to win their third conference series of the season. The win also pulled the fourth-place Cougars within half a game of third-place Southern Miss and 1 1/2 games of second-place East Carolina. Both teams dropped two of three games in their respective series against Alabama-Birmingham and Tulane.
Musick, who began the season as the Friday starter before being demoted to Sundays after a 1-5 start, limited Memphis to four runs on eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts. In his last three starts, Musick (4-5) is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA, having lasted at least 6 1/3 innings in each outing.
‘That’s what we need out of him, especially on that Sunday start,’ head coach Rayner Noble said. ‘That’s the perfect fit for him because he’s going to be probably better than most teams’ Sunday guy. If he’ll just hold down the walks and big innings, I like our chances a lot on Sunday.’
The Tigers (17-22, 4-8 C-USA) came as close as 5-4 in the sixth inning, but the Cougars took advantage of two Memphis errors in the eighth to score three insurance runs that put the contest away. UH relievers Chase Dempsay and Donnie Joseph combined to allow only one run during the final 2 2/3 innings, with Joseph holding Memphis hitless and scoreless in 1 2/3 innings to earn his sixth save.
Sunday’s win wouldn’t have been possible without the Cougars’ rejuvenated offense, which scored a combined three runs in the three previous games, including a 1-0 win and 3-1 loss against Memphis on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Cougars stranded a total of 18 base runners in the first two games of the series, but abandoned only five Sunday.
The Cougars wasted little time against Tigers starter Brach Davis (1-5), taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
Taylor White led off the game with a single and took second on Blake Kelso’s single to left field. Caleb Ramsey singled to center field to score White and leave runners at first and second with no outs for Dempsay.
Dempsay took charge from there, crushing Davis’ 0-1 offering to left field for his first home run of the season, a three-run shot that gave Musick plenty of breathing room before he took the mound.
The Cougars were fortunate to get an early jump on Davis, who settled down after the first inning, save for giving up a run in the third. Davis allowed five runs in seven innings, striking out six batters and retiring the last 13 batters he faced.
The Tigers scored a run off Musick in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings to pull within one, but the Cougars tagged Memphis relievers Garrett Hachtel and Ryan Holland for three runs in the third to move ahead 8-4. The runs were aided by errors from Memphis second baseman Adam McClain and third baseman Jacob Wilson.
Memphis’ Brett Bowen cracked a solo homer off Dempsay in the bottom of the eight to reduce the Cougars’ lead to three, but the Tigers wouldn’t come closer.
‘We’re very fortunate to come out of here with a couple of wins because it could have went either way,’ Noble said.