Garza’s gem allows UH to earn opening-day win

Junior pitcher Aaron Garza worked fast and was sharp in his debut as the Cougars’ Friday starter, keeping Nicholls State from threatening to score while on the mound. Garza had six strikeouts and only allowed two hits while keeping runners from scoring position while he pitched.

Between Garza’s periods on the mound, senior first baseman Casey Grayson, back for the first time in almost two years, went 3-for-3, with a first at bat home run. Grayson and Garza helped lift UH to a 3-0 opening day victory against Nicholls State.

The game, which only lasted two hours and thirteen minutes, saw UH put together everything they had worked on over the off-season and finally use it in a game time setting. Garza said his mindset helped him perform well.

“Just waking up this morning I wanted to dominate every part of my day,” Garza said. “Just coming out here today was fun. It was the first game back. I was kind of jittery at first but after I got settled in after the first inning, I felt pretty good.”

Head coach Todd Whitting, starting his fourth year at the helm, was pleased with the end product.

“With Garza tonight that was legitimate Friday night stuff,” said Whitting. “The thing I really appreciate about his effort tonight was he was extremely aggressive towards the zone. He didn’t pitch around the zone, he went right at that their hitters, and I know that’s what Coach [Frank] Anderson preaches.”

As for Grayson, Whitting pointed out the unique nature of the event given his first  baseman’s absence from the game.

“Yeah that’s a storybook deal, your first at bat after literally being out two years you come back, and just drop an absolute bomb into the tree in right field. I was very happy, and proud for him.”

For most of the night, the first of the Cougar’s three runs was provided by the Grayson’s solo shot that seemed to still be on something of an upward trajectory as it traveled over the right field fence. While not just his first homerun of the season, it was his first at-bat and, adding even more specificity, it was the second pitch he saw.

“I was anxious at first, but I was kind of jittery out there. Coach Whitting told me when I went on deck to just get a pitch I could handle,” Grayson said. “It was fastball left kind of out over the plate and I put a good swing on it and it carried over. I was just hunting the fastball.”

Grayson’s 3-for-3 night, coupled with Garza’s gem and Chase Wellbrock’s shutout relief pitching, was enough for the team to come alive.

“I hope that I can continue to come out and perform every night. It’s been rough the past few years being and it felt good to come out here, especially your first at bat to hit a home run,” Grayson said.

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