ElViento: Although the Cougar baseball team’s record still stands below .500 on the season (4-5), you can pretty safely say that the season-opening sweep at the hands of Texas State, and the team’s pitching woes are distant memories.
All year, the Houston staff has shown the ability to miss bats. Through nine games, the Cougars have been outhit just once. But until the first two games of the Houston College Classic, we didn’t know just how good this staff could be if it finally started attacking the strike zone, and stopped giving up so damn many free baserunners.
Now we know.
On Friday, the Cougars brought Chase Dempsay out of the bullpen for a start, and he responded with a strong outing. Dempsay, William Kankel and Matt Creel combined on a shutout, as the Cougars scored a 3-0 victory over a Missouri Tiger team that was 4-2 heading into the contest.
On Saturday, Houston got a rare chance to face UT-Austin in any sport, and the team was up to the challenge. Before the game, I remarked that starter Michael Goodnight‘s 6.85 ERA was too high for his relatively impressive peripheral numbers (9 hits in 9.2 innings, 11-4 K-BB ratio). His ERA will come down eventually, I reasoned. Even optimistically, I didn’t expect it to come down this quick.
Goodnight was flat-out dominant. He didn’t let a couple of mystery balk calls get to him, and threw the game of his career thus far: 7 scoreless IP, 2 H, 9 K. Even if one were so inclined as to nitpick and point to his four walks, I would counter that at least three of them came on extremely questionable calls. That ERA? All the way down to 3.78.
Goodnight left after the seventh with a 1-0 lead, which came two pitches into the bottom of the first for the Coogs. Blake Kelso (who notoriously rarely swings at first pitches) cranked the first pitch of the game for a triple to center. The next pitch from Brandon Workman (brother of Cougar women’s hoopster Megan Workman) went to the backstop, and Kelso scampered home. That would be all the offense Houston would need.
The bullpen picked up right where Goodnight left off. Ty Stuckey came in for the eighth, and struck out the first two Longhorns he faced. A two-out walk was nullified when Stuckey picked the runner off. Matt Creel came on, looking for his second save in as many games. After giving up a single and a walk to his first two hitters, Creel struck out the next two, and with two outs, pinch hitter Paul Montalbano lined out to Kelso, who made a nice, leaping grab at shortstop. And the celebration was on:
Next up for the Cougars is Texas Tech on Sunday at 2:30. The Cougars have already earned their first winning record at the Houston College Classic since 2002, and have a chance for their first ever weekend sweep of the annual showcase, which is in its tenth season.
Both Houston Cougar basketball teams are preparing for the Conference USA tournament, and they could not possibly be headed in more opposite directions.
The Lady Coogs have won their last three games by a combined 65 points, including a 12-point victory over first-place Tulane. Houston has the #2 seed in the women’s bracket, and will play at 8:30 PM on Tuesday against the winner of Monday night’s contest between Rice and UTEP.
The men’s team had a chance to build some momentum after a dominating win over Memphis, and fell flat on its face instead, losing to SMU, barely edging last-place Rice, and losing to second-to-last place Tulane. The Coogs are the 7-seed, and face 10-seed ECU on Tuesday at noon. Should they win, they would get another shot at Memphis, on Wednesday at noon.
The Cougar softball team’s three-run seventh inning rally wasn’t enough on Wednesday, as they lost 6-4 to #19 Texas A&M. The ladies have a home double-header against the Southern Jaguars this Wednesday, starting at 5:00. It’s the team’s annual Striking Out Breast Cancer game(s), so come support the team, and breast cancer research.
Plus, the shirts they’re giving out are going to be hilarious. Trust me.
That’s all for me for now. Hope to see you at Minute Maid tomorrow! Go Coogs!
(Video courtesy of Scott & Holman‘s own jtdees.)
(Just for fun, if you’re looking for your favorite S&H personality, ElViento is in the first row, with the red shirt and blue/white hat. Bobb-o is in the jeans and red jacket, no hat, and comes over and leads the “Whose house?” at the end. jtdees, is, quite obviously, behind the camera.)