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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Baseball

Appling’s glove, bat puts HBU away


All that was visible was his back and a scarlet numeral as he sprinted after a ball that most of the stadium couldn’t see. As for the diving catch, no one at Cougar Field knew junior outfielder Landon Appling had gloved it until after he picked himself up off the ground and casually jogged back to the dugout.

“The wind kept carrying it, and I was running back, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, man, I am running out of room,” Appling said. “With the wind blowing like this, it’s tough. You just gotta keep running.”

For good measure, he did it again in the eighth inning when he dove for a ball that the HBU fans had already written off as a hit.

“I thought he was outstanding tonight,” said head coach Todd Whitting. “The play he made in the first inning might be one of the best plays I’ve ever seen a center fielder make. He’s consistently done that since he’s been here. I think he’s one of the best center fielders in the country.”

In addition to the defensive gem, Appling, who was named to the preseason All-Conference Conference USA team, went three for four at the plate and stole a base in the 7th.

Cougar pitching also did its part as sophomore Aaron Garza, in his second start of the season, gave up only one earned run on eight hits. After Garza was lifted in the fifth inning, pitchers freshman Jared West and junior Tyler Ford came on to shut the Huskies out over the last innings.

“I thought Garza threw well,” Whitting said. “We make them swing the bat and make them put the ball in play. Jared West is a really talented freshman, and I think he’s going to be a great pitcher for us.”

At the plate, the highlight of the night for the Cougars was a five-run, five-hit second inning when the Cougars had their biggest one-inning offensive explosion of the season.

“We’re playing one pitch at a time and trying not to be in such a hurry,” said Whitting of the batting. Freshman first baseman Justin Montemayor drove in two, including his second home run of the season.

This weekend, the Cougars will play in the three-day long Astros Foundation College Classic at Minute Maid Park. They play Texas A&M at 7 p.m. Friday, Baylor at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and the University of California-Berkeley at 11:00 a.m. Sunday.

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