Just when it seemed all was lost for the season, the Cougar baseball team turned in two of its strongest performances of the year to top #12 Southern Miss and win the weekend series.
Houston lost the Friday series opener, 6-5, their fourth straight loss, and seventh loss in nine games. The Cougars blew a 2-1 lead after seven, a 4-3 lead after eight, and got the potential tying run on third, and winning run on second with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn't score either runner.
Behind a huge performance out of the bullpen from freshman Dustin Fuerst, the Cougars evened things up on Saturday with a 6-5 lead of their own. Houston jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second, before letting Southern Miss slowly climb back into the game and tie the score. But Caleb Ramsey's sac fly in the bottom of the sixth scored freshman Landon Appling to put the Cougars back ahead, and Fuerst closed out the Golden Eagles. But he did need some help from senior second baseman Ryan Still. After Fuerst allowed a lead-off walk in the top of the ninth, B.A. Vollmuth hit a looping fly down the right field line. Still chased it down and made a spectacular diving catch. A lazy fly ball and a ground out later, the Cougars were back in the win column.
Sunday belonged to Mo Wiley. The junior starter, who missed the beginning of the season with injuries, was in fine form. The only mark against him was a sixth inning solo homer from Adam Doleac. Wiley threw a complete game, allowing just the one run. The majority of the Houston offense came in the first inning, when the Coogs put up a five-spot. USM helped Houston out in that frame with two hit batters and an error. After tacking on another run in the fourth, the Cougars ended up with a 6-1 victory.
Still sporting a sub-.500 record with just four games left on the schedule, Houston finds itself out of contention for an NCAA tournament at-large berth, but they do have some momentum in their favor heading into the Conference USA tournament. The series win for Houston also put the crosstown rival Rice Owls in prime contention for a C-USA regular season title. Rice now sits just a game behind Southern Miss, with a season-ending series in Hattiesburg still on the schedule.