Oct. 11, 2011
HOUSTON - The University of Houston baseball team competed against the Rice Owls Tuesday night in a 14-inning scrimmage at Cougar Field.
The extended scrimmage was a chance for head coach Todd Whitting to evaluate his squad, which has been holding fall practices since Sept. 6.
"We got out of the blocks really slow over the first three innings, which is something we addressed at the midway point," Whitting said. "That's going to happen with young guys sometimes. They're kind of trying to feel their way through it. Whether it's a pitcher guiding the ball to home plate or a batter feeling for a ball during their at bats. Today was really good."
"I told the team you can't let this define us and this is part of the process. Today couldn't have gone any better. It really pounded home some of the points I've been trying to make with the team as far as how we go about the game and I wanted to do it against an opponent like Rice, who is very good. It was glaring what we need to work on but we have 20 guys who have never played a Division I game before so this was really good."
Freshman Price Jacobs finished the scrimmage with a single, triple and home run to finish 3-for-5 at the plate. Juniors Casey Grayson and Wes Theiss and freshman Keegan Sanford each added two hits on the night.
"Price is one of many talented freshmen that we have in the program," Whitting added. "We have some really good freshman position players. Michael Pyeatt had really good at bats and so did Keegan Sanford. I am really pleased with what the freshmen did and this was the whole idea behind tonight. We wanted to get them experience and get them out there. They'll come out with a lot more swagger on Sunday when we play, because they have the first one under their belt."
Nine Cougar pitchers saw action in the contest. Junior Aaron Stewart struck out three batters in an inning of work, while freshman Aaron Garza and junior Ryan Bonnot each had two strikeouts. Juniors Austin Pruitt and Matt Hernandez each pitched two innings to open the scrimmage, allowing a combined four hits.
Whitting was pleased with what he saw out of his pitching staff in their first scrimmage but feels there is always room for improvement.
"All of them went out and took the ball and competed," Whitting said. "We have to get better at throwing strike one. We had double-digit walks and that happened because we didn't throw strike one. If you don't throw strike one you have to come back with the second pitch and do that, and that's what we didn't do well. But, overall, they're effort was great."
The scrimmage was the first of two for UH during its fall slate. They will travel to Austin, Texas for a scrimmage against the University of Texas on Oct. 16, the final day of the fall season for the Cougars. The 1 p.m. scrimmage is scheduled to air on the Longhorn Network.