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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Baseball

Cougars’ pitching woes continue against Southern Miss


Michael Goodnight and his mound mates took their lumps in a three-game sweep at the hands of Southern Miss over the weekend and now find themselves in last place in Conference USA. | Justin Flores/The Daily Cougar

This weekend’s Conference USA series between UH and Southern Miss in Hattiesberg, Miss., turned out to be a pitching nightmare for the Cougars.

The Golden Eagles, who prior to the series were in last place in C-USA, scored 31 runs off the Cougars’ pitching staff.

The Golden Eagles swept the Cougars, who have dropped five of their last six games and fallen into last place in C-USA. Sunday’s 8-5 defeat left UH at 16-22 overall and 4-8 in conference play.

“We really struggled on the mound all weekend. That’s really been our Achilles’ heel of late, and it continued to show up,” head coach Rayner Noble said. “We didn’t have one starting pitcher go out there and really give us much of a chance.”

Noble said the pitchers have been up in the strike zone and the result has been multiple extra-base hits.

“We’re just getting everything elevated, and what killed us was we gave up home runs,” Noble said. “We just give up too many doubles, triples and home runs. We just need pitchers to start getting the ball down.”

Lefty Taylor Hammack started Friday’s 10-9 loss, allowing two runs in the first inning. UH responded with one run in the second and two in the third to take a 3-2 lead.

It didn’t last long, however, as Southern Miss scored three runs off Hammack in the bottom of the third to take a 5-3 lead. Hammack lasted only 2 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits.

But the Cougars answered with two runs in the fourth to tie the score at 5. Southern Miss (21-17, 5-7) scored a run in the fifth inning off reliever Mo Wiley to move ahead 6-5, but the Cougars answered in the sixth inning with four runs to take a 9-6 lead.

That would be the last time the Cougars would score though. The Golden Eagles scored a run in the sixth and three in the seventh to pull off the comeback win.

Michael Goodnight made his team-leading 11th start of the season Saturday, but it would be his worst.

The Golden Eagles scored six runs in the third inning off Goodnight, who lasted only 3 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits and four walks and suffering the loss in the Cougars’ 13-4 defeat. The six runs were the most allowed by Goodnight.

James Conlee replaced Goodnight and was even worse. Conlee gave up four runs in the fifth, and UH trailed 10-0 after five.

UH finally got on the board with three runs in the sixth inning, but Southern Miss scored three more in the bottom of the sixth to squash any chance at a comeback.

Matt Creel, who usually comes out of the bullpen, started Sunday in hopes of helping UH avoid the sweep, but he struggled, too. Creel gave up five runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.

UH cut the deficit to 5-4 on a three-run homer by Joel Ansley in the top of the fifth, but Southern Miss scored two in the bottom of the sixth to push the lead back to three. The Cougars scored only one more run as Southern Miss went on to complete the sweep.

UH moves on to face Sam Houston at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Huntsville.

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