The Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic is a challenging weekend for the Coogs – especially with our lackluster hitting facing top-line SEC pitching. A good weekend is 1 win – a great weekend would be 2 wins. A quick look at what we’re up against:
Friday – 3:30 p.m. vs Kentucky
Coogs face junior RHP Sean Hjelle (2-0, 0.66 ERA, .065 BAA). That’s not a misprint – hitters have 3 hits in 46 ABs against him ths year. He’s the defending SEC Pitcher of the Year and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning last week.
Kentucky is hitting .324 with 16 homers already this season. 7 starters are hitting over .320 in the young season. We have our work cut out for us today.
UH counters with tough-luck pitcher Trey Cumbie (0-0, 1.50 ERA, .100 BAA). Cumbie is 8th in the country in strikeouts (22) and 3rd in K/BB ratio (22.0) but hasn’t had any run support.
Saturday – 7 p.m. vs Mississippi State
State will throw LHP Ethan Small (1-1, 4.50 ERA) against first-year starter Aaron Fletcher (2-0, 1.64 ERA, .194 BAA). Mississippi State has had the most eventful season to-date: they pushed out their coach (and former Tulane All-American) Andy Cannizaro after the first weekend of the season. Cannizaro had an affair with a State employee and (allegedly) used school funds for it.
State is finishing a 9-game road trip to begin their season.
Sunday – 6 p.m. vs Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt has not named a starter but will likely be RHP Chandler Day (0-0, 3.00 ERA, .182 BAA). UH will throw Ryan Randel (1-0, 2.38 ERA, .233 BAA) who has settled in nicely as the Sunday starter.
Vanderbilt is hitting a gaudy .352 this season and 7 starters have an OBP of .460 or higher. They are averaging almost 10 runs a game.
Randel has been a pleasant surprise for the Coogs. The 6’7″ JUCO transfer from Orange Coast College has given UH stability on Sundays – rare for a college pitching staff.