When Houston completed the three-game sweep of Sam Houston State to claim the Don Sanders Cup on April 23, 2019, no one could have foreseen that the next game in the series would not take place for nearly three years . . . The series resumed Tuesday night in Huntsville and the Cougars once again took control of the series with a 9-1 win over the Bearkats.
Derrick Cherry started on the mound for the Cougars and in his typical role as a reliever, it was easy to assume this midweek game was going to be a bullpen game, as was the case the last time Cherry started a game . . . The game played out differently.
Scoreless in the fourth inning, Alex Lopez and Ryan Hernandez both walked to get on base . . . With two outs, Cameron Nickens lined a ball the opposite way down the right field line to score both Lopez and Hernandez and the Cougars led 2-0.
Still 2-0 in the fifth, Ian McMillan (2-for-3) singled to lead off the inning and then stole second base . . . After moving to third base by tagging up on a fly ball to center, Zach Arnold drove in McMillan with a run-scoring single to extend the Houston lead, 3-0.
Houston further added to the lead in the sixth when a Malachi Lott single to right scored one run and an error by the right fielder allowed a second run to score and Lott ended up on third base . . . McMillan scored Lott on a sacrifice fly to right and the Cougars led 6-0.
The Bearkats got a run back in the bottom of the sixth and the Cougars responded with three runs on a two-run home run by Lopez (3) and a solo shot by Hernandez (2) and Houston led 9-1 going to the stretch.
Head coach Todd Whitting said of Cherry pre-game, “we’ll let him go as long as he can.” . . . Cherry was done for the night after the seventh inning and his 121st pitch . . . Cherry struck out nine and allowed just the one earned run . . . Brandon Uhse singled in the top of the eighth with two outs to extend his consecutive game hit streak to seventeen games.
Cameron Prayer came in to handle the eighth inning and retired the side in order . . . Patrick Dunn came in from the bullpen to close out the ninth inning and like Prayer, he retired the Bearkats in order to close out the 9-1 win and give the Cougars the advantage in the Don Sanders Cup series.
Cherry earned the win and is now 2-1 this season.
“Huge outing for Cherry,” Coach Whitting said after the game, “appreciate his effort the last few weeks with Coach Bunn and trusting the process.” “He was dominant tonight against a very talented Sam Houston State University offense.”
Houston has two days off before they welcome Western Carolina to Schroeder Park on Friday night for the final non-conference weekend matchup of the season . . . First pitch Friday night is scheduled for 6:30pm.