10-game winning streak propels Cougars to national rankings
With 3-0 record in conference after a clean sweep of ECU and a 4-0 record against teams from the Big12, the Cougars have finally earned a ranked spot among the best baseball teams in the US.
In five separate polls, UH is in the top 20 at no. 19 in the USA Today/ESPN poll and no. 20 according to Baseball America. The Cougars are 21-4, which is their best start in 25 years, and have reeled off 10 consecutive victories.
The Pirates are the latest team to sail into Cougar Field, and first Conference USA team the Cougars have played so far.
While a Sunday win against ECU at Cougar Field was a dramatic 5-4, ten inning affair, the contests on Friday and Saturday were less tension-filled, as the Cougars won 7-2 and 4-3.
“Every win is good,” said head coach Todd Whitting after Sunday’s win. “There’s no bad wins. I want to win every possible game we can, whether it’s the one today or the one in two weeks.”
With a pitching staff that has a team 3.11 ERA, the Cougars are tied for first in C-USA with the University of Central Florida.
Senior pitcher Austin Pruitt earned his fifth win of the season this weekend, and freshman Jake Lemoine got his fourth. Both righthanders have ERAs that are under 2.50, with Lemoine’s 1.53 against 29.1 innings pitched. Junior righthander Chase Wellbrock picked up his third save of the season over the weekend, while keeping his ERA at 3.93.
Wellbrock said he is comfortable in any role.
“It’s where the coaches decided to put me,” Wellbrock said. “I’ve gotta be ready at any moment whenever they call on me and I just gotta give it my all when I go out there.”
At the plate the Cougars are hitting .296 as a team, with freshman infielder Kyle Kirk leading the way with a .347 average and used the weekend series to stretch his hitting streak to 10 games. Freshman infielder Josh Vidales’s RBI single against ECU on Sunday extended his streak of reaching base safely to 19 consecutive games.
Vidales said the Cougars aren’t getting too satisfied.
“Momentum wise, it’s always good to go into another game knowing you won the one before, but you really can’t, Vidales said. “You can’t lack the energy or the attitude and the effort. You gotta go into the next game like it’s a brand new day.”
With one conference series down and a nine road games to be played before before the next home series, the Cougars will take on the Lamar University at 6:30 p.m today in Beaumont.