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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Baseball

Cougars seek end of pitching struggles, four-game slide


After being on the wrong end of a three-game sweep against Southern Miss last weekend, in which they were outscored 31-18, the Cougars fell to last place in Conference USA with a 4-8 conference record and are 16-22 overall.

The Cougars will try to snap their four-game losing streak when they take on Sam Houston State at 6:30 p.m. today in Huntsville.

Since March 14, when UH capped off a six-game winning streak with a 5-3 victory over Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., it is 8-17.

UH’s downfall, as it has been all season, is its pitching. The Cougars’ have a team ERA of 6.09 while their opponents’ ERA is 4.95.

Head coach Rayner Noble attributed the team’s struggles to their starting pitching.

“We didn’t have one starting pitcher go out there and really give us much of a chance, and that’s really the name of the game in terms of what we do in college baseball,” Noble said. “You’re really going to struggle when you don’t have very good starting pitching, and that’s what happened to us this weekend.”

On the plus side, the only place the Cougars can go from here is up.

“We’re just in a pretty good valley right now, and we really need a couple of guys to step up on the mound and start pitching like they’re capable of,” Noble said.

Houston’s next opponent, Sam Houston State, also struggles on the mound. The Bearkats’ team batting average is .300, with five starters hitting above .315, but their team ERA is 6.29 compared to their opponents’ 5.11.

The Bearkats don’t have one pitcher with an ERA under 4.00, and the lowest is 4.38. As a result, the Bearkats have struggled even more than the Cougars and are currently 16-25.

The Bearkats started the season with a seven-game losing streak and were 1-9 in their first 10 games. Then the Bearkats then went 11-4 in their next 15, including a seven-game winning streak.

Since then, the Bearkats are 4-12 and have lost seven of their last eight. During this slide, they lost a relatively low-scoring game toUH, 4-2, on April 6 at Cougar Field.

The Bearkats were shut down by Michael Goodnight, who had one of his better games of the season. Goodnight tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings, allowing five hits and no walks while striking out eight batters.

Noble said he’d take that kind of performance from anybody in today’s game.

“We’ve got to get somebody that’s going to take the ball and go out there and give us a chance,” Noble said. “If we can get a starting pitcher to give us five solid innings, I’ll take that right now. That’s what I’m going to be looking for today.”

For Noble, until someone steps up, the Cougar’s woes will continue.

“Until we get somebody out there on the mound that gives us a chance, you can probably expect more of the same,” Noble said.

The Cougars will return home for their next game, a rematch against Lamar, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Cougar Field.

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