After Rice loss, Cougars, Tigers will claw in conference clash
Coming off a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to rival Rice on Tuesday, Cougar baseball returns to action this weekend as they head to Memphis.
Currently tied for second in the American Athletic Conference, the Cougars (23-9, 4-2) face a reeling Memphis (20-13, 2-4) club, losers of four straight. With only six conference series remaining, the Cougars look to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the AAC.
Sophomore left-hander Trey Cumbie gets the start on Thursday following the indefinite suspension of starter Seth Romero. Now at 5-0, Cumbie has been the most dominant starter for the Cougars this season.
Before allowing a run in the second inning last Friday, Cumbie tallied a 21 1/3 scoreless inning streak. He currently ranks No. 7 in the NCAA with a 1.04 ERA, highlighted by a complete game shutout over then-No. 10 Louisiana.
Following Cumbie will be sophomore right-hander Mitch Ullom. The Sweeny native is 5-2 on the season with a 2.50 ERA and 31 strikeouts in a team-high 50 1/3 innings.
Scheduled to start Saturday’s finale is senior John King. The southpaw is 4-1 in seven starts this season with a 3.12 ERA and team-high three complete games. Overall, the Cougar staff ranks No. 3 nationally in ERA at 2.52 and have allowed a conference-low 13 home runs against them.
Offensively, the Cougars are led by junior shortstop Jake Scheiner. In his first season at Houston, Scheiner has been dynamic on offense, leading the team in average, home runs and RBIs. His 11 home runs and 37 RBIs lead the AAC, while he is second in average.
One Cougar commonly brought home by Scheiner is junior catcher Connor Wong. Wong leads the AAC in both runs scored (32) and stolen bases (18), going 18-for-21 on the base paths. He has been a consistent force on the bases, reaching safely in 29 of the 32 total games this season.
Coming in hot for the Cougars is junior outfielder Corey Julks. Riding a 16-game hitting streak, Julks is hitting .272 with 14 RBIs in 2017.
The Tigers rank near the bottom of the conference in both hitting and pitching, with a .259 team average and 4.18 ERA. The Cougars and Tigers have met 66 times throughout the teams’ history, with Houston holding a 44-17 record in the series.
The series is scheduled to kickoff Thursday with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m. Game two’s first pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, and the series will conclude at noon Saturday.