Houston completed its first sweep of the 2023 season in Minneapolis on Sunday by topping Minnesota 5-2 at US Bank Stadium.
Houston trailed 1-0 going into the top of the third inning . . . With two outs in the frame, Drew Bianco singled to reach base . . . Malachi Lott (4-for-4) followed with a single that moved Bianco over to third base . . . A double-steal attempt allowed Lott to reach second, a throw by the second baseman to home plate was wild and allowed Bianco to score the tying run while Lott moved up to third base on the error.
Zach Arnold walked and stole second base before Alex Lopez (2-for-4) lined a single up the middle to score both Lott and Arnold to give the Cougars a 3-1 advantage.
Josh Ekness made his second start on the mound in less than a week, but he was practically just as effective as in the other two outings . . . Ekness departed Sunday’s game with two outs in the bottom of the third inning just shy of 40 pitches and still leading 3-1.
After the game, Head Coach Todd Whitting explained the early departure of Ekness. “Today was a good prep day for Ekness with regard to his routine to start next weekend,” Whitting said. “He was on a very low pitch count as today was more about mindset and preparation.”
With Houston leading 3-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Lott tripled to lead off the frame, it was Lott’s fourth hit of the game batting in the leadoff spot . . . Arnold plated Lott on a sacrifice fly hit to center field . . . Lopez followed with a solo home run over the tall right field wall in US Bank Stadium’s makeshift baseball setup and the Cougars took a 5-2 lead needing just six more outs.
A combination of pitchers followed Ekness after he left the game including Tommy Egan, Dan Wright, Brendan O’Donnell, Nick Ayers, and Justin Murray . . . Murray closed out the Gophers in the bottom of the ninth inning by striking out all three batters he faced.
Houston pitching allowed six runs over the entire three-game series in Minneapolis, two runs in each game.
Coach Whitting heaped praise on the entire team after the game, “Proud of the team for grinding out a road sweep.” And on Lott’s day at the plate Whitting added, “Lott showed what he is capable of every day. He has the ability to beat you with his bat and his speed.”
The Cougars are traveling home after Sunday’s game . . . Houston will then turn around and travel to Lake Charles, Louisiana on Tuesday to face McNeese at 6pm . . . The Cougars will then return home to host Southern on Wednesday night at Schroeder Park.