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Friday, April 10, 2020

Baseball

Cougars intend on spoiling Knights’ tale


Righthander Michael Goodnight leads the resurgent Cougars this weekend as the team takes on Central Florida in a three-game series at Cougar Field. | Newton Liu/The Daily Cougar

So far, the Cougars’ 2010 season has been marked by highs and lows. The highs featured their first 3-0 mark in the Houston College Classic followed by a road sweep of Cal Poly, culminating in a season-high six-game winning streak.

The lows have been a pair of losing sweeps, beginning with the season’s opening series against Texas State at Cougar Field. The other came at the hands of Arizona State last weekend in Tempe.

Add it all up and the Cougars own a mediocre 10-9 record.

UH begins Conference USA play this weekend with a three-game series against Central Florida (14-8), starting at 6:30 p.m. today at Cougar Field.

Two consistent areas for the Cougars have been offense and fielding. The team hasn’t done a lot of slugging when it comes to home runs nor does it draw many walks, but it has guys who rack up hits. Five starters are hitting .300 or better, with three topping the .350 mark.

The most understated strength though has been the Cougars’ play in the field. They’ve consistently made the routine play and are fielding at a .973 clip. Shortstop Blake Kelso has only six errors at the most crucial position on the field.

One area that’s been a problem for the Cougars so far, though it has improved, has been the pitching staff. The Cougars’ pitching staff has had some bright spots and individuals giving consistent outings, but the overall team ERA is 4.77, and half its pitchers have an ERA higher than 4.30.

The road doesn’t get any easier for UH pitchers this weekend as the Knights come in hitting .347, slugging .560 and having a .436 on-base percentage.

The UCF lineup features Chris Duffy, who’s making an early case for National Player of the Year honors and is the leading candidate in C-USA. Duffy has 12 home runs and is slugging at a staggering 1.220 clip. Just for good measure, Duffy’s also hitting .530 and has a .584 on-base percentage.

For as good as UCF has been with its bats, it has been just as poor on the mound and in the field. The Knights’ pitching staff has a team ERA of 5.21, and in the field, UCF has committed 37 errors for a .957 fielding percentage compared to the 28 errors of their opposition.

That said, the Knights would probably take a 14-8 record at this point in the season after having a 22-35 record last season in their first year under head coach Terry Rooney.

However, the Knights have played only three games outside of Orlando. UCF has had three series sweeps and is riding a season-high five-game win streak, with their latest and most notable victory a 6-3 win at No. 14 Miami.

This will be the 23rd meeting between UH and UCF, with the Cougars leading the series 16-6. UCF went 2-1 against the Cougars last year, winning 8-4 and 4-1 and losing 6-3 in a three-game series in Orlando last May.

Michael Goodnight (3-2) will start tonight against UCF’s Nick Cicio (2-0). On Saturday, William Kankel (0-1) will toe the rubber for UH against Owen Dew (3-1), and Eric Brooks will throw for UH in Sunday’s finale. UCF has yet to announce its Sunday starter.

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