Pirates provide latest challenge for rallying Cougars

The Cougars ended their four-game skid with Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over McNeese St. and now will look to turn that win into a wave of momentum as they head east to take on East Carolina for their third Conference USA matchup.

The three-game series gets underway at 5 p.m. today at Lewis Clark Field in Greenville, N.C.

Seven of UH’s next eight games are on the road and judging by the team’s road record, 3-7, and ECU’s home record, 14-3, the Cougars may have a rough weekend.

“East Carolina is a very well-coached team, a very talented team,” head coach Todd Whitting said. “(Lewis Clark Field) is the toughest place in the conference to play. They draw well and the crowd is extremely rowdy. It’s a really tough environment.”

After Tuesday’s confidence-building win, the Cougars (11-16, 1-5 C-USA) have a bit of bluster back in their game. But that boastfulness wasn’t evident until Whitting rounded up the team and issued them an ultimatum between the fifth and sixth innings.

“He told us that we weren’t playing Houston Cougar baseball,” pitcher Mo Wiley said. “He told us that we need to pick our game up. He challenged us and we rose to the challenge.

“We said, ‘you know what? He’s right. We’re not playing the baseball that we’re capable of playing.’ And when we put it all together we’re a pretty good team.”

UH faces an ECU team that has been playing the polar opposite of it. The Pirates (20-8, 4-2 C-USA) have won four consecutive games and are sitting in second place in the conference standings.

Utility player Drew Reynolds leads the team in batting average (.337) and slugging percentage (.551), while third baseman Corey Thompson leads the team in hits (35) and RBIs (22).

Pacing UH at the plate is shortstop Chase Jensen. Jensen leads the team in average (.307), hits (31) and RBIs (23).

The team will need all aspects of their game to be clicking this weekend in order to get back into contention. But Tuesday’s win, even though it is just one win, might provide them with a spark to get things back on track.

“I hope it’ll carry over,” Jensen said. “We’ve been playing pretty bad, so hopefully this’ll jump start us.”

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