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Friday, August 12, 2022

Baseball

Commentary: Bounce-back weekend for Cougars powered by their bats


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The Cougars big bats powered them to a 2-1 series win over Baylor. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

The baseball team welcomed the Baylor University Bears to Darryl and Lori Schroeder Park last weekend hoping to return to their winning ways.

The team entered the weekend on a four game losing streak in which they could not seem to get their offense going. On the losing streak, the Cougars were outscored by a combined 28-8.

The first game of the series did not go well. Despite a great pitching performance by junior Andrew Lantrip, the team was shutout in the first eight innings of the game.

When catcher Connor Wong hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to keep his team’s hopes alive, he ended a streak of over 12 scoreless innings for the Cougars. His efforts were not enough, however, as Houston fell to Baylor 4-2, extending the ball club’s losing streak to five games.

“We’re scuffling right now,” head coach Todd Whitting said after the loss on Friday night. “Baseball can be extremely cruel, and it’s kicking us in the tail right now.”

The next two days were far less cruel to the Cougars.

The team’s scoring drought came to an end when the Cougars earned a 10-4 victory on Saturday followed by an 11-2 win on Sunday in which they rained five home runs.

Being able to bounce back from a five-game losing streak with two big wins shows the resiliency this team possesses. Where other teams may have been discouraged by narrowly losing the first game, the Cougars dug in and took the second and third games of the series.

“It’s huge. We were in a tough patch there,” Whitting said. “To be able to not only win but win big in both games against a really good in-state team tells you that this team keeps fighting.”

Sophomore outfielder Clay Casey played an instrumental role in the routs. Casey shined bright on Sunday when he belted two home runs, his third and fourth in the young season.

“We had great practices all week,” Casey said. “Coach sat all of the hitters down and told us we had a talented team, we just needed to get our confidence back, find our swag and be the Coogs again.”

The return of sophomore pitcher Seth Romero on Sunday didn’t just down the Bears, it added experience to the young pitching rotation moving forward. Romero was named “Second Team All-American” by Perfect Game, but he sat out the first two weeks of the season.

Romero was masterful as he pitched five innings of one-hit baseball on his way to earning his first win of the season Sunday.

“I thought Romero was good,” Whitting said. “For the most part he threw strikes. His secondary stuff will get a little sharper, but I thought he competed well.”

In addition to improved pitching, freshman phenom Joe Davis has shown that he will be a major key to the Cougars’ success throughout the season.

After the weekend, Davis is hitting an outstanding .467 with three home runs and team-leading 18 RBI.

“The jury is still out, but to this point he is as advertised,” Whitting said. “He has been a good player and is a big part of our team.”

The two wins were instrumental for getting the team back on track. The bats found their rhythm again.

To this point, the team has played all of its games in Houston, but they will soon be tested on the road.

The Cougars will see how they fare as visitors for the first time this weekend when they head to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to take on the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.

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