Base Knox: Houston College Classic Thoughts

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The Houston College Classic has come and gone for yet another year. Last weekend’s event featured a trio of ranked teams, and three teams that were looking to make a statement in 2010. No. 6 Texas, No. 8 TCU, and No. 16 Rice headlined the nine-game weekend, with Houston, Missouri and Texas Tech rounding out the rest of the cast. I had the time to go down to Houston and check out eight of the nine contests.

Most Impressive Team: Houston Cougars
I made a bold prediction that Houston would have the hardest weekend because they looked overmatched on paper, but the Cougars surprised everyone with a perfect record, including shutouts of Missouri and Texas. RHP Michael Goodnight allowed only two hits and four walks against nine strikeouts in seven innings against the Longhorns. The sophomore retired the last 13 Texas batters he faced on the day before giving way to the bullpen. Ty Stuckey and Matt Creel held the Longhorns’ batters to a hit and two walks, each striking out a pair, in the final two innings, earning the victory

Junior Chase Dempsay kept the Missouri Tigers off balance on Friday night en route to a combined shutout with William Kankel and Matt Creel. The Houston staff held the Tigers to eight hits, allowing only three base runners to advance to third, in the 3-0 win.

The final game against Texas Tech was a completely different story. Houston’s pitching staff walked 14 Red Raiders, and allowed eight hits in the 15-8 victory. The game almost ran four hours long, and forced this writer to head back to Austin in the fourth inning. Houston DH M.P. Cokinos collected five RBI in the first two innings, including a three run home run to the Crawford Boxes in left field.

Least Impressive Team: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech came into the weekend with a 7-2 record on the year, but headed back to Houston with three more losses. The Red Raiders played well, for the most part, but the finale against the Cougars erased all memory of their 3-2 nail-biting loss to Rice the night before.

In the first contest against TCU, ace pitcher Chad Bettis struck out nine Horned Frogs, but it was the batters that didn’t swing at strike three who did all the damage, picking up seven runs on 11 hits against the Team USA member. The bullpen for Texas Tech kept the TCU lead on a growing pace, surrendering four runs over the final three innings.

The Red Raider bats were surprisingly quiet, picking up only 17 hits on the weekend, a low number for the offense-heavy start that Tech experienced. Rice pitchers kept them in check, allowing only two-hits, one of which was a monster two-run home run to senior OF Bonham Hough.

Sunday’s game was brutal for the pitching staff. RHP Louis Head was unable to find the umpire’s strike zone, leaving himself open to the hard-hitting Houston team. It took the Red Raiders six total pitchers to end the game, including three to just finish the 10-run second.

All-in-all, it could go down as a learning experience for Tech, or a good way to evaluate the team before conference season kicks off.

Most Impressive Pitcher: Taylor Jungmann, Texas, Taylor Wall, Rice, Michael Goodnight, Houston
It was too difficult to pick a single pitcher that stood out because all three of these sophomores looked spectacular in their starts.

Jungmann earned a no-decision against Rice, throwing 7.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits, walking a pair of Owls and striking out eight. He also held Anthony Rendon, the top hitter in the Classic, to a walk and no hits in three plate appearances.

Wall was Jungmann’s counterpart on Friday, picking up the loss in 7.1 innings with five hits, two runs, three walks, and eight strikeouts. Wall’s offspeed stuff kept the Longhorn hitters constantly guessing, and allowed Rice to stay in the game against Jungmann. This was by far Wall’s finest game of the season, considering the opponent was ranked in the top ten.

Goodnight, like Wall, pitched a gem against the Longhorns. Unlike Wall, Goodnight held the Longhorns off the scoreboard, and allowed only a pair of hits. Goodnight used his powerful fastball to keep the Longhorns swinging, picking up nine strikeouts in seven innings.

Most Impressive Hitter: Bryan Holaday, C, TCU
Holaday finished the weekend 7-13, with two doubles, one triple, one run and two RBI, but constantly hit the ball hard and to all fields. Seeing as how the weekend dominated by pitchers, Holaday’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he was good enough to draw a lot of talk.

I took a bunch of pictures, and got a ton of video from a few different angles. We’ll upload all that when we can find some time to edit it.