Tigers hold Cougars scoreless in third game of series
Over the weekend, the University of Memphis baseball team defeated nationally-ranked Houston at FedEx Park, winning one game of the three-game series. It was a low-scoring series, as the Tigers scored two runs on the weekend, and Houston scored five.
Friday night's game set the tone for the weekend, as the scores were few and far between. Although the Cougars scored in the first inning, it was hard-fought, as starting pitcher Sam Moll did not allow a hit in the inning.
A walk to the leadoff man would be nullified by a fielder's choice, but another walk and wild pitch left two runners in scoring position with one out. Moll got the next batter to ground out, however, the runner from third would score.
Houston would build on the lead in the fifth inning, scoring two more runs. Moll had the bases loaded with nobody out in the fifth, yet limited the damage to just two runs.
Memphis would only score in the ninth inning. Junior Zach Willis would score on a Bryce Beeler sacrifice fly, and that would be the last time the Tigers would cross home on the evening, losing 3-1.
Although Friday night resulted in a loss, there is something to be said about the quality pitching by both Sam Moll and senior Heith Hatfield. In six innings of work, Moll let up three earned runs on four hits, but still struck out eight. Hatfield took over in the seventh and pitched three innings without a hit and struck out four.
After the game, head coach Daron Schoenrock had praises for both the Cougars and his pitchers.
"They're [Houston] a very good plate discipline team, and they walk a lot. If you don't throw it in there, they'll get some high walk numbers. Heith came in and I was very pleased with him for holding them where they were."
Saturday, the two teams were scheduled to play games two and three of the series as a double-header.
Game two of the series was another example of a pitching duel, as 19th ranked Houston only scored two runs off Tiger pitchers Erik Schoenrock and Jon Reed. Each pitcher allowed one earned run, but Schoenrock struck out 11 of the 22 batters he faced.
The pitchers' efforts to keep the game close were futile. The Memphis offense rallied at several points, getting seven hits off the Houston pitchers, but never scoring a runner. An hour-long rain delay further stagnated the Tigers, but the Cougars were able to score one after the delay.
After the break between games, the Tigers continued their excellent pitching, as pitchers Alex Gunn and Clayton Gant stepped up and shut out Houston. Starting pitcher Gunn bent but never broke on the evening, as the Cougars threatened to score in the third and fourth innings.
Gunn escaped both jams without allowing a run, and was happy with the end result.
"I just tried to go out and play my game and make pitches. I did what I could do and let my defense play behind me. Our hitters got us one run, and that was enough for us to win it."
The one run was scored by Tucker Tubbs, who reached home off a Zach Willis single to right field. Although the game was close, the product is the result of two conference teams that have excellent pitching staffs. Following the series, Schoenrock summed it up.
"Both teams had opportunities to win it. You are going to see a lot of close games in Conference USA in college baseball ... I thought we competed well in the box today."
Stealing a game in C-USA play is important, especially against a nationally ranked team. After this weekend, the Tigers are 15-13 overall with a 2-4 conference record.
The Tigers will play Ole Miss at AutoZone Park tonight at 6:30, followed by the University of Central Florida this weekend at FedExPark.
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