Seton Hall Series Preview

The Houston Cougars will come into their weekend series against Seton Hall looking to get back to their winning ways. Those that were predicting a tough time on the road against Marshall this past weekend were proven right as the Cougars dropped the first two games of the series before winning the finale.

This coming weekend will be another test. The Cougars are at home in the friendly confines of Cougar Field, which is nice, but Seton Hall is not a team to take lightly.

The Pirates will come into the weekend with a 16-14 overall record. That's not all that impressive when taken at face value, but the way they have gotten there is.

After starting off the season 0-9, including two losses to #1 North Carolina, Seton Hall has gone 16-5 to arrive at 16-14. Among their wins during this run is a sweep on the road against Pepperdine and a series win at home against Connecticut.

The Pirates are led by their weekend starting rotation.

The leader of the pack is senior Jon Prosinski. The Skilllman, New Jersey native is 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA in his eight starts. He has a 43/8 strikeout to walk ratio in 54.2 innings and opposing hitters have a .212 batting average against him.

Most importantly, Prosinski was a big part of the Seton Hall rotation that was in a regional two years ago, so he is no stranger to big-time baseball.

After spending some time in the bullpen, senior Greg Terhune has settled into a role in the rotation. In 11 appearances, including four starts, Terhune is 2-2 with a 2.65 ERA. Opposing hitters have managed just a .180 batting average against him.

Josh Prevost, a 6'8" junior, is 2-2 with a 2.97 ERA in his eight appearances (five starts). Despite his size, Prevost hasn't shown swing and miss stuff so far this season, however. He has 19 strikeouts and 13 walks in just over 30 innings pitched. Opposing hitters are only hitting .229 off of him, but he is going to give batters a chance to make contact.

In the bullpen, the Pirates have a number of versatile arms.

Sam Burum has proven to be the best of the bunch thus far. In eight appearances, including three starts, Burum has a sparkling 1.14 ERA. He gets the job done, but he is certainly not going to blow you away. In 23.2 innings pitched, he has just six strikeouts.

Sophomore Jose Lopez has an even 3.00 ERA in 21 innings pitched. He has struck out 20 and opposing hitters have just a .153 average against him. 

Freshman Luke Cahill, one of the few pitchers that hasn't started a game this season, has a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings spanning ten appearances.

Brian Gilbert, likely the best power arm in the bullpen, is as much a closer as anyone on this team. He has struck out 29 batters in 25.1 innings and has a 3.55 ERA. He has two saves and that's all it takes to lead the team in that category.

Offensively, Seton Hall isn't going to run up the score on you, but they have some talent at the top.

Junior Zack Granite has been a star for this team. The outfielder is hitting .336 with 18 RBI, 21 steals, a 16/18 strikeout to walk ratio and a .428 on-base percentage. Outside of big extra-base power, Granite gives the Pirates a little bit of everything.

Third baseman Chris Selden has been another solid table-setter at the top of the lineup. He is hitting .341 with ten RBI and 12 stolen bases.

Giuseppe Papaccio and Sal Annunziata, in addition to having fantastic names, are the two biggest boppers in the Seton Hall lineup. Papaccio is hitting .319 with 17 RBI and a team-leading 14 doubles. Annunziata has a .269 average with four home runs and 17 RBI.

Senior Mike Genovese is hitting .307 with a team-leading 21 RBI.

Without a doubt, the biggest wild card in this series is the Seton Hall running game. So far this season, the Pirates have stolen 82 bases in 93 tries. They feature four players with double-digit steal totals. For a comparison, UH has 45 steals on the season and only one player with double-digit steal totals. And UH has played three more games than has Seton Hall.

If Caleb Barker and the Cougar pitchers do a good job of keeping the Seton Hall running game at bay, you can see the UH pitching staff having a lot of success working their way through the Pirates lineup. But if runners are allowed to run at will, it could be another long weekend for the Cougars.

A week without a midweek game could not have come at a better time for the Cougars. With a couple of midweek losses in a row and a series loss to Marshall, it was clear that this young team needed a break to clear their heads.

The hope for Todd Whitting and crew is that the break was enough to get his team ready to get a big series win.

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