Today at noon, the Bulls begin a three game series at home against conference foe, Houston. The Brewin crew researched this Houston Cougars team (26-15, 7-5 AAC) to give you an idea of what to expect when these two squads take the field.
The Offense (by Matt)
As a team, the Cougars are another impressive offense. They currently slash .282/.370/.433 for a team OPS of .803 (5th in the AAC) and have collectively stolen 58 bases this year (2nd in the AAC).
Individually, their lineup features 6 regulars with an OPS over .800 and 7 total players with an AVG over .286. Anthony Tulimero (C, RS. SO) comes into the series as the Cougars’ top contact hitter, pacing the team with a .371 average. He also has 56 H and a .433 .OBP to go along with 9 SB (T-1st on HOU), and 10 2B (T-1st on HOU).
Another guy to keep an eye out for is Brandon Uhse (OF, JR). Uhse is Houston’s top power threat coming into the weekend with a .309/.390/.576 slash line and a team leading 8 HR, 38 R, 35 RBI, and 80 TB.
In conference play, the Cougars have been very consistent at the plate as well, slashing .282/.368/.450 (.818 OPS) in 12 games played.
Just as the Bulls have had freshmen step up in conference play, the same can be said for Houston. Cameron Nickens (OF, FR) who has played in 9 conference games for the Cougars is batting .476/.633/.619 in 30 PA.
Keep an eye on this freshman this weekend.
The Pitching (by John)
The next test for USF baseball comes to the ‘City on the Bay’ from Houston, TX. The Cougars are 7-5 in conference play this season with a recent series win against a team we know all too well, the Memphis Tigers.
Projected matchups (not official, Brewin’s projection):
- Friday (4/29): Brad Lord (RHP; Jr-RS) vs. Jaycob Deese (RHP; Jr)
- Saturday (4/30): Ethan Brown (LHP; So-RS) vs. Kyle Lacalameto (LHP; Jr)
- Sunday (5/1): Joseph Sanchez (LHP; Sr-RS)/TBD vs. Nathan Medrano (RHP; Jr)
In this series, the starting rotation for Houston (3.97 ERA on the season), in large part steals the show. Last week though, one of Houston’s starters struggled. Last weekend, against Memphis, Jaycob Deese (Friday starter) tossed 4.2 innings, giving up 8 hits, 6 earned runs, 3 walks. That performance came just one week after Deese’s best game of the season against Tulane. In that game, he beat the Green Wave to a tune of 7 innings pitched, 1 earned run, & 9 strikeouts.
Starters vs. Memphis
Jaycob Deese (RHP; Jr): 4.2IP/8H/6ER/1K/3BB
Kyle Lacalameto (LHP; Jr): 7.0IP/3H/1ER/8K/1BB
Nathan Medrano (RHP; Jr): 6.2 IP/4H/3R/0ER/3K/2BB
The bullpen, similar to the starting rotation, has recently started to take shape for this Cougar team. One specific standout USF will need to keep an eye on is Ben Sears (RHP; Jr); with 8 saves on the season, he has also demonstrated proficient ability to go multiple innings. In 21 appearances this season, Sears has a 2.79 ERA, allowing 0 earned runs in 2/3rds of those outings. Ben has multiple standout performances over the last few weeks, and will most certainly be a factor in the back end of these 3 games for the Houston pitching staff.
Alongside Ben Sears is another serious talent in Cameron Prayer (LHP; Jr). Up until just a couple of weeks ago, Prayer had not allowed an earned run since his appearance vs. Rice on March 8th. His scoreless streak did come to an end though on April 16th against Tulane, where he failed to get out of the inning he pitched in, & was touched up for 3 runs in the process. In 15 appearances this season, Prayer has pitched 14.2 innings, striking out 15 to just 3 walks. While his ERA could use some work (5.52 on the season), he has really cleaned up his act over the last month, & will also certainly be a big part of the game plan coming out of the bullpen this weekend.
Altogether, the pitching staff boasts some reputable numbers from the rotation to the pen. With Orion Kerkering (RHP; So-RS) recently transferring to the bullpen for USF, and ace of the staff Jack Jasiak (RHP; So-RS) being shut down for the season, it has left a void in the starting rotation for the better part of the season. Luckily the emergence of names like Ethan Brown (So-RS) have entered the chat, & with impeccable timing. Since joining the rotation, Boogie is 3-1 as a starter with an ERA just under 3. He has provided a spark that I expect to keep on shining this weekend. He’ll likely match up against who I think is Houston’s best starting pitcher, Kyle Lacalameto.