The Houston Cougars faced off against the Texas State Bobcats at Cougar Field tonight. It was a beautiful night for baseball, and the fans in attendance were treated to a thriller as the Cougars won 2-1, scoring in the seventh and nine innings.
Jared Ray got the start for the Cougars, and he pitched a beauty of a game, going seven innings and giving up just two hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. One of the hits was a huge mistake though as a bad pitch from Ray ended up flying over the right field fence off of the bat of Casey Kalenkosky in the fourth inning. But Ray (0-0, 1.50) and Jordan Mannisto, who got the win while pitching the final two innings, shut down the Bobcats the rest of the way.
"It's not my job to score runs," Ray said. My job is to keep them from scoring runs....I gave up that cheap bomb, it was a bad pitch really. He took advantage of it. I just tried to focus on what my job was, and that was to keep them from scoring runs and keep us in the game."
And keep them in the game he did because Texas State's Colton Turner was dealing just as much from the mound as Ray. Turner pitched six innings of shutout ball while giving up just four hits, walking three, and striking out 12 batters on 118 pitches.
Cougars coach Todd Whitting initially didn't think his team was doing much against Turner, but then he took a look at the pitch count and discovered just how much his batters were making Turner work, especially the lead-off batter Landon Appling and the two hitter Jake Runte. Appling was 2-for-3, walked twice, and scored both runs, the winning run coming when clean-up hitter Jacob Lueneberg was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with Appling standing on third. He scored the first run in the seventh inning when Runte, who was 3-for-4 -- including two singles, two walks, and a fielders choice -- doubled in Appling in the seventh.
"We actually ran his pitch count up to a 100 pitches in five innings [actually 106]," Whitting said. "I didn't think we were doign that well. But we were actually making him throw pitches, even though he was throwing strike one. So the result wasn't very good, but the process was pretty good because we were able to get him out of the game in time to get to their relievers in there."
The primary problem for the Cougars, as it has been the past several seasons, was hitting with runners on base and hitting with two outs. The Cougars stranded nine batters, and had multiple runners in scoring position with two outs, but had trouble getting the key hit. But when it mattered, in the seventh and ninth innings, the Cougars were able to get that key out two out hit -- Runte's RBI double was with two outs and there were two outs when Lueneberg was hit by the pitch.
With the win, the Cougars move to 4-1 on the season, and they face Texas State (2-3) again tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 and Sunday afternoon at 1:00.
Todd Whitting has moved Chase Jensen to second base and moved Jake Runte from second to shortstop. This was done because Jensen had surgery on his throwing arm in the off-season and Whitting doesn't want him stressing the arm with the longer throw from short. He also wants to keep Jensen's bat in the lineup, and since Runte can play short, and can play a good shortstop, this seemed like the best solution.
The Cougar win tonight was the first time they've defeated Texas State since April 9, 2008, when the Cougars won 15-9. Texas State had won the last six games.