Ben Brooks (24) baseball

Ben Brooks (left) and Nick Vaage (right). The University of Memphis baseball team claimed a 2-1 series win over conference foes Houston FedEx Park this past weekend.  

The University of Memphis baseball team (13-13, 3-3 AAC) earned their redemption this past weekend, claiming a 2-1 series win over conference foes Houston (14-13, 2-4 AAC) at FedEx Park. Memphis’ victory over Houston is their first AAC series win since 2017, and their first series win over the Cougars since 2015. The Tigers played a doubleheader Friday, due to inclement weather forecasted for Saturday’s game, and won 7-3 and 6-4. Houston salvaged a win Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 win to avoid a sweep.

Arlington High alum Hunter Goodman had a weekend to remember, leading his team with five hits, seven RBI and his first two homeruns in his young Tiger career.

“We’re capable of doing a lot,” Goodman said after Friday’s doubleheader. “We’ve got a lot of good arms and good bats. We have the ability to win as many as we want to, we just have to go play like we can.”

Game one:

After a game high 15 hits against Ole Miss, the batters kept aflame with Goodman hitting a three-run homer in the first inning. Freshman Ben Brooks assisted in the high offense as he went three for four in the first game. Memphis then added more cushion with four runs in the fifth, with Payton Marshall adding a two RBI single.

Lefty pitcher Hunter Smith had his game of the season with a career-high nine strikeouts through eight innings. Memphis came into the weekend ranking No. 8 nationally with a 10.6 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio, and 239 strikeouts in 23 games. Takoda Metoxen relieved Smith in the ninth inning and retired five batters to capture the first win of the series.

Game two:

After a 45-minute break, the final game of the doubleheader was highlighted by all runs coming from homeruns. Marshall hit a grand slam in the first inning, allowingGoodman, Alec Trela and Brooks to start the Tigers with a 4-0 lead. It was the team’s second grand slam of the season, and it was Marshall’s second homerun in the season.

The Cougars replied with a three-run homer in the third inning, carrying momentum later on in the fifth to tie 4-4 with a solo shot by Kobe Hyland.

On the mound, Joshua Scheer earned the win by tossing two crucial scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth innings, allowing one hit and throwing three strikeouts. Colton Neel was credited with the save pitching in the ninth.

The game remained tied until the eighth inning, when Trela got on base after being walked and Goodman worked his magic. He hit a two-run homerun to set the eventual 6-4 final in favor of the home team.

Hunter Goodman baseball

Hunter Goodman (above) hit a three-run home run during the first inning of game one, and a two-run homerun during the eighth inning of game two. 

Game three: 

It seemed Memphis would earn the sweep after putting up a 3-0 lead after Goodman and Marshall earned RBIs in the third inning and with Brooks scoring on a Houston error in the 5th, but Houston responded back.

Even after left-handed pitcher Chris Durham threw a solid 6.1 innings and struck out six batters, Rey Fuentes sparked momentum with a solo dinger in the seventh inning, and Jared Triolo earned an RBI single shortly after. An RBI double in the eighth tied the game at three, but then a fielder’s choice allowed Houston to take the lead, and the Cougars retired the next six Memphis batters to cap their win. 

What’s next:

Head coach Daron Schoenrock was eager to continue momentum in conference play after the win against Houston but has to go through Arkansas State and Southern University before continuing AAC play against UConn.

“I wish we didn’t have to wait two weeks to get back in league play because we’re playing well right now,” Schoenrock said after Sunday’s game. “We’re going to attack and approach these next four games as conference games to keep that momentum and keep that series-winning feeling going.”

The Tigers head to Jonesboro Wednesday night and face the Red Wolves at 6:30 p.m. before a home series starting Friday against the Jaguars.

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