UH Rookies Showcase Skills Against Villanova
New faces stepped onto the diamond for the first time in a Houston uniform as the Houston Cougars opened their season against the Villanova Wildcats on Friday night at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park.
“We did well,” said Houston baseball head coach Todd Whitting. “A lot of new guys got a chance to play.”
The night began unfavorably for the Wildcats as they could not get the offense moving against starting pitcher, Andrew Lantrip.
The Cougars, however, didn’t have those issues when Connor Wong, standing with a full count, propelled Houston’s offense with a lead-off homerun in the bottom of the first.
Although the Cougars added more points to the score when Jacob Campbell hit a three-run homerun at the bottom of the third, Coach Whitting’s watchful eye was surveying a different player.
“The biggest things in the game were not the obvious,” Whitting said. “Clay Casey going from first base on an easy popup, going hard around the bases, and they ended up dropping the ball and he is standing on third base. Those are the kinds of things that I am looking for early.”
Aside from Casey, reliever Nick Hernandez and Tanner Lawson performed well in their Cougar debuts. The two posted shutout frames while recording a combined total of three strikes.
On hitting power, freshman Joe Davis – who won the 2014 Homerun Derby – contributed on offense, and was one of three Cougars who posted a multi-RBI game. Following behind him were Campbell and Justin Montemayor.
“You try to prepare them from the time that they hit campus on the different speed of the game on this level from wherever they came from,” Whitting said.”You never know until you get them out there.”
The Cougars would add more runs to their score, recording a total of 12 hits in their 13-1 win against the Wildcats, accompanied by seven walks and three batters hit by a pitch.
Lantrip did not disappoint as he dominated on the mound against Villanova, amassing a total of six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits, no walks and five strikeouts. This upped his career record to 16-3 as a Cougar.
“It eases your mind when your ace goes out there and does his job,” Whitting said. “He looked in mid-season form tonight.”
The Cougars will seek their second win as John King pitches against the Wildcats for game two of their three-game series on Saturday evening.