HOUSTON—Raynor Noble said the Houston team he saw Friday afternoon bore little resemblance to the Cougars he saw over the team's first seven games. And the coach was not complaining.
The Cougars carried a 2-5 record into the Houston College Classic, and they were coming off an 8-2 loss to rival Rice on Tuesday.
But Houston got strong pitching from Chase Dempsay, William Kankel and Matt Creel on Friday in a 3-0 win against Missouri.
"We had a little come-together after that debacle against Rice, and made up our minds that we were tired of messing around," Noble said. "It showed today. Whether we can capture that and keep it remains to be seen, but this is a nice win for us."
After Dempsay kept the Tigers scoreless through five innings, allowing four hits and walking four, left-hander Kankel came in and silenced Missouri's bats for 2 2/3 more innings. Kankel doesn't quite have the power stuff of last year's lefthanded bullpen ace, Donnie Joseph, but his fastball is firm at 87-89 mph, and his curveball is effective against lefthanded hitters.
"I think the job that was done by William Kankel was paramount," Noble said. "Him getting us to Creel, that was big."
Dempsay, meanwhile, was solid in his third career start, but Noble said he'd like to see the junior righthander throw more strikes. He leaned mostly on his 88-90 mph fastball and his 75-79 changeup, which he threw against righthanded hitters and lefties alike, but his breaking ball was inconsistent
"He's got an outstanding changeup, and when he gets confidence in his breaking ball, that will even make him better," Noble said.
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