Cougars move to first in AAC after wins over Wichita State
The Cougars baseball team won a critical weekend series against the Wichita State Shockers at Schroeder Park to take pole position in the American Athletic Conference.
The Cougars and Shockers came into this matchup with an identical 10-5 conference record, each looking to take the top of the standings over East Carolina.
Houston won the first game on Friday 5-3 thanks to a furious four-run eighth inning by the Cougars.
Down 3-1, sophomore outfielder Malachi Lott led off the inning with a single, and later ended up scoring on a groundout RBI by graduate centerfielder Drew Bianco. Junior utility man Alex Lopez had a single up the middle that allowed senior shortstop Ian McMillan to score and knot it up at three runs apiece.
The Cougars took the lead when junior two-way player Justin Murray hit a single to right field and brought home sophomore Brandon Burkel who pinch-ran for Lopez. Murray ended up scoring later in the inning on a throwing error by the Shockers to take the two-run lead.
Junior starting pitcher Josh Ekness went six and two-thirds, giving up three earned runs with seven strikeouts. Sophomore reliever Dan Wright ended up picking up his second win of the season while Murray got his seventh save.
The Cougars won 7-5 on Saturday thanks to consistent offensive production. UH took a 7-2 lead at the end of five innings and never gave it up.
Bianco had himself a game with four total RBIs. A double to right center in the second inning scored infielder Burkel and sophomore left fielder Cameron Nickens, and a triple in the fourth drove in the other two runs.
Nickens got in on the action in the fifth frame with a single to right field that drove in Murray and junior third baseman Zach Arnold to stretch the lead out to five.
Sophomore relief pitcher Kyle Ayers earned his third win of the season for Houston, going five innings, only giving up two earned runs and three hits with four strikeouts.
The final game of the series on Sunday was canceled due to rain, but the two wins are the Cougars’ sixth straight conference series win.
Up next, the 29-18 Cougars will face intra-city rival Rice Owls on Wednesday.