The next 8 days will give us a lot of answers about this UH baseball team.
UH plays their first true road game tonight when they head to Reckling Field. Tomorrow, the team heads out for the annual west coast trip. UH will play at Arizona for 3 games and midweek at UNLV for two more.
These six games hold a lot of opportunity for the 3-7 Cougars:
First, Rice is awful. Just … awful. They are 260th in scoring (3.5 rpg) and 208th in ERA (5.68). Last night, they gave up 11 runs and 13 hits to ULL – who came into the game hitting .185 (284th nationally). Awful.
You’ve got to win this game.
Then the guys head to Tucson where the Wildcats always hit it pretty well. Arizona’s ballpark is very hitter-friendly, as UH found out last time they were there, a 9-3 Cougar win in March 2001. But Zona pitchers average over 11.5 strikeouts per game – that’s an issue for this UH team (more on that in a bit).
And then you finish the road trip at UNLV – Tuesday and Wednesday in Vegas – before coming home. The Rebs struggle on the mound – yet another chance for the Cougars to build confidence.
So what’s a win on the trip? What record makes you feel good about where this 2020 team is headed? I’m not asking for much: three wins would do it for me. A 3-3 split would prove that there’s some life left in this team.
Odds and Ends
Only two of the 113 baseball-playing schools from FBS leagues are striking out more than 11 times a game: Florida State (12 k/game) and UH (11.6). Oddly, neither has played a true road game.
Both teams are on pace to break the all-time NCAA strikeout record. Obliterate it, really. The record is 610 by Vanderbilt in 2015 (72 games). Assuming each team plays 60 games and keeps on their current strikeout rate, FSU will K 720 times while UH would do it 696 times.
The Houston school record for strikeouts per game is 8.2 which was set last year. The record for total strikeouts, 471, was set in 2018 (the 2019 team finished 11 strikeouts short although they played 7 fewer games).
Comparing this current offense to the last two at this point in the season is pretty eye-opening.
Look how far ahead the 2020 team is in strikeouts? It was hard to imagine this was possible but here we are.
Lael Lockhart and Clay Aguilar need to throw more strikes and get ahead in counts early. Both need to extend their starts this weekend to give UH a chance to win some games.
Lael has just 13.1 IP in three starts but has thrown 240 pitches. That’s 18 pitches an inning – entirely too many. Aguilar has been a little better (257 pitches in 17 IP – 15.1 pitches/inning) but both have to give the team more.
This staff is not built for six games in 8 days – it is imperative that the Friday and Saturday night guys give you more innings this weekend. Just. Throw. Strikes.