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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Baseball

UH looking to build on win


Righthander Michael Goodnight began the season as the Cougars’ ace, but he has struggled as of late. After 11 starts, he is 4-6 with a 5.11 ERA. | Newton Liu/The Daily Cougar

After enjoying a measure of revenge against Lamar by winning Wednesday’s rematch at Cougar Field in similar fashion to their game a week before, the Cougars hope to use the momentum gained from ending their five-game losing streak to finish out the season strong.

Caleb Ramsey, who sent the Cougars to an 8-7 victory by driving in the game-winning run in the 11th inning, said that the game could be a turning point for their season.

“It really helps us (since we’re) going on another road trip this weekend; a loss would have really hurt us — we would have stayed down,” Ramsey said. “It just takes one game to get out of a streak.”

Now the Cougars (17-23, 4-8 Conference USA) hope to translate that magic into a furious conference run when they begin a three-game series against UAB at 6:30 p.m. today in Birmingham, Ala.

The Cougars will be playing an opponent with similar statistics. The Blazers have a .282 team batting average, close to UH’s .289, and UAB has a 5.65 ERA compared to UH’s 6.02. Like UH, the Blazers give up a lot of hits, allowing 392 in 344 1/3 innings.

Both teams have also struggled as of late.

UH has dropped six of its last eight contests. UAB has dropped seven of its last eight games, a stretch that included a six-game losing streak.

The difference between the two teams is that the Blazers are 21-18 overall and 5-7 in Conference USA. UAB is tied with Southern Miss for sixth place in C-USA, trailing both Tulane and East Carolina by half a game, with 12 conference games remaining.

UAB, however, had a much easier non-conference schedule than UH.

UAB played the likes of Ball State (19-21), Eastern Michigan (21-20), Troy (21-19) and Western Illinois (9-28).

The Cougars, on the other hand, are in last place in the nine-team C-USA with a 4-8 record, trailing Central Florida by half a game. The Cougars are in danger of not making the conference tournament, which they’ll host, because only the top six teams will advance.

Head coach Rayner Noble said the Cougars have their work cut out for them, no matter who the opponent is.

“I think we’ve got 12 conference games left, and I don’t think we’re going to be able to make the conference tournament unless we win seven of 12,” Noble said. “We’ll need to battle all the way, and that may not even be enough,” Noble said.

But, by taking things a play at a time, Noble said his team has a chance to begin accumulating wins.

“The main thing is we need to focus one game at a time and do the little things right,” he said. “The little things hurt us last weekend; we couldn’t catch a ball at first base, which started the beginning of a rally, and we got caught off first base on a two-out drive.

“Good teams just don’t do those things. That’s what we’ve been doing, and it adds up to bad baseball.”

Noble said he’s looking for some starting pitchers to give his team a chance to win.

“We really need a couple of guys to step up on the mound and start pitching like they’re capable of pitching,” Noble said. “We haven’t seen (Michael) Goodnight really pitch like he’s capable on a consistent basis, and we need to have some consistency out of him.

“I’m going to shop one around a little bit this weekend and see if we can find somebody who will click.”

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