HOUSTON -A combined shutout effort by No. 3 Houston Baseball's Jake Lemoine and Seth Romero on the bump led the way as the Cougars earned a 5-0 win over Minnesota on Saturday evening, clinching the weekend series with one game left to play.
With the win, Houston is now 13-1 under head coach Todd Whitting during Opening Weekend games and improves to 2-0 on the year, looking to sweep the series in Sunday's finale set for 1 p.m. at Cougar Field.
Lemoine (5.0, 6, 0, 0, 0, 6) was electric through 5.0 innings as he struck out six and didn't allow a run or walk for his first win of the season. The Bridge City, Texas native and Preseason All-American allowed three of the six hits in the first inning and scattered the final three hits through his next four frames.
The shutout was completed when true freshman Seth Romero (4.0,1,0,0,1,3) took over in the sixth, pitching the final 4.0 innings to earn his first save of his collegiate career. The southpaw allowed one hit and one walk, while fanning three to accompany Lemoine with a total of nine strikeouts by Minnesota on the night.
Offensively, the Cougars finished with seven hits, three of which landed for extra bases. Junior transfer Chris Iriart (1x4, R, RBI) belted his second homerun of the season to put the Cougars on board early. Junior second baseman Josh Vidales (1x4, 2 RBI) doubled off the right field wall, driving in two, while freshman Connor Wong (1x3, R, RBI) tripled, scored and drove in a run. Freshman Corey Julks (1x3, RBI) added the other RBI for the Cougars.
Minnesota opened the game with three straight hits to load the bases, but Lemoine battled back to induce a flyout to right field before finishing off the Gophers with back-to-back strikeouts to keep the game scoreless.
After a quick bottom half of the first inning, Minnesota picked up its fourth hit of the game with a leadoff single in the second, but Lemoine worked around the base runner to get a 6-4-3 double play to keep the Gophers silent.
It didn't take long for the Cougars to jump on board first when Iriart connected on a 2-0 pitch for his second homerun in as many games. Houston continued its offensive scoring effort with two more runs in the second frame following an RBI-triple by Wong, scoring Montemayor - who walked, while Julks followed with his first hit and RBI of his collegiate career to extend the Cougars' lead to 3-0.
The defensive effort continued to shine, backing Lemoine as Fulmer hit Vidales on an 8-4 putout following a Minnesota base hit to end the Gophers' threat in the top of the fourth.
After tossing 5.0 shutout innings, Lemoine exited and Romero took over in the sixth and was efficient, working around a one-out walk. The young lefty retired nine straight through the middle innings and kept Minnesota off the board, surrendering his first hit with one out in the ninth.
Houston would pad its lead with two more runs in the eighth on a two-run double off the right field wall by Vidales, scoring Taylor and Survance - who both reached on back-to-back bunt singles to open the frame.
Minnesota starter Dalton Sawyer (4.1,3,3,3,1,5) allowed three runs on three hits with five strikeouts, but would be credited with the loss.
Houston and Minnesota will wrap this three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at Cougar Field.
- RHP Jake Lemoine struck out six in 5.0 innings of work.
- Junior transfer Chris Iriart belted his second homerun in as many games.
- Houston Homerun total: 4 ... 17 total in 2014
- Houston combined for the shutout with Jake Lemoine and Seth Romero.
- LHP Seth Romero earned his first career save.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
On Jake Lemoine's effort...
Our pitching was lights out tonight. Lemoine was really good, and he got out of that bases loaded jam in the first inning with nobody out, that's a tough thing to do. He is a veteran pitcher. He has good stuff. He gave up the bunt hit and then a couple of singles, but he did a good job of bouncing out of that and that set us up for the rest of the game.
On Seth Romero's effort out of the pen...
The freshman [Seth] Romero has been like that in practice and you hope that it translate to the game and tonight he was really good out there.
On the look of the offense early...
The ball is livelier, we are going to see some more offense this year, but we are physically stronger because we play bigger and stronger. We have athletic kids.
Junior starter Jake Lemoine
On his the first inning and settling in...
It was just the first outing of the year, the adrenaline is really high and I was trying to throw the ball 300 mph, but after those three hits I just got my breaths in and settled down and went to working how I know how to do. I just started hitting my spot.
On the effort by teammate Seth Romero...
[Seth Romero] He has got some great stuff. He is going to be pretty good in three years, I mean he is good right now, but he is going to be good in three years.
Sunday, February 15 - 1:00 p.m.
Sunday Kids Day: Kids Zone with inflatables, Kids Run the Bases, Postgame Autographs
**University of Houston students - FREE with your Student ID.
Sunday, February 15
Houston: RHP Aaron Garza (Sr., Galveston, Texas)
Minnesota: RHP Neal Kunik (Sr., Eagan, Minn.)
With 31 home games set for 2015 at Cougar Field and a Top 10 nationally-ranked preseason program representing the University of Houston, the Cougars are proud to announce that single-game tickets are now on sale at UHCougars.com/Basetickets.
Along with the online option, fans can purchase tickets by visiting the Athletics Ticket Office at TDECU Stadium Monday through Friday, 10 a.m., to 5:30 p.m. or can call 713-GO-COOGS.
Houston Baseball will offer variable pricing on its single-game tickets and group rates.
For the first time ever, the pricing breakdown will be determined whether or not you purchase your single-game tickets online vs. at the gate the day of the game as well as whether the Cougars play on a weekday (Monday-Thursday) or weekend (Friday-Sunday).
Weekday: Monday-Thursday; Weekend: Friday-Sunday.
As noted in the table, variable pricing occurs. For weekday (Tuesday nights) online purchases, fans can take in a game, ranging from $5-$7 depending on the choice of seating. If you choose to purchase the day of the game as a Weekday Walk-Up, you will pay roughly $2 more than the online price ($7-$9).
Weekend (Friday-Sunday) online pricing will range from $6-$8 per game, while Weekend Walk-Up pricing the day of the game will run a fan anywhere from $8-$10.
Group rates are also available (as noted in the table). Weekday (Tuesday) and Weekend (Friday-Sunday) pricing occurs. Groups of 10-24 are set at $4-$5 per person, while groups of 25+ are $3-$4 per person.
With single-game tickets available now, Houston Baseball still encourages supporters to become Season Ticket members and enjoy the attractive pricing and rewards that come with up-front purchasing for the entire 2015 season.
WHY ARE SEASON TICKETS MORE ATTRACTIVE?
Season Tickets are as low as $99 for general admission seating and the program offers an Anytime Tickets package that allows fans to use the 31 tickets how they choose (1 per game, multiple per game or all in one game). The Anytime Tickets are only available in general admission seating.
For just $200, you can enjoy reserved chairback seating on the lower level of the concourse at the stadium.
A new additional "Reserved 2" seating option for the 2015 season is also available with an assigned seat in sections 200, 201 and 202 for $150.
If you breakdown the season ticket pricing of $99 General Admission, the pricing of $150 for Reserved 2 or even the pricing of $200 for Reserved 1 (chairback), you are spending less money per game than purchasing single-game tickets.
HOW TO PURCHASE
To purchase tickets in advance, fans must visit the Athletics Ticket Stadium Office located on the northeast corner of TDECU Stadium, just outside of Gate 1 off Cullen Boulevard. Parking is available in the TDECU Stadium parking garage with the first 30 minutes free of charge. Regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m., to 5:30 p.m. or you can call 713-GO-COOGS.
JOIN THE DUGOUT CLUB
Nationally-ranked Houston Baseball would like to encourage those wishing to support the efforts and success of the baseball student-athletes to consider joining the Dugout Club for as low as $25 a month or $300 annually.
For a minimum monthly installment of $25 or a minimum one-time gift of $300, supporters can take advantage of the Pinch Hitter level, which will guarantee an invitation for two to exclusive Dugout Club events and Houston Baseball team apparel.
For a minimum monthly installment of $100 or a minimum one-time gift of $1,000, supporters can take advantage of the Diamond level, which will guarantee batting practice passes for two to any home game, invitation for two to exclusive Dugout Club events and Houston Baseball apparel.
**Cougar Pride points will be applied accordingly.
For more information on joining the Dugout Club, please contact the Houston Baseball office at (713) 743-9396.
For more information regarding Cougar Pride, please call (713) 743-GOUH.
A LOOK AT THE 2015 SCHEDULE
For the ninth consecutive season, Houston will open its slate at Cougar Field, having accumulated a winning record of 14-6, which includes three straight weekend sweeps the past three seasons under Whitting - who will begin his fifth season at the helm.
"I'm really excited about this year's schedule," Whitting said. "It is probably one of the most competitive ones we have made since our staff took over in 2010."
Houston will open the season hosting Minnesota on Feb. 13-15. The Cougars and Gophers will meet for the first time since 1987 as they have met 25 previous times.
The home slate for the Cougars will continue with their third straight weekend series at Cougar Field when it welcomes first-time opponent Columbia for a four-game series, set for Feb. 27-March 1.
"Our fans will have a great opportunity to see us play against great opponents here in our city," Whitting said.
31 home games; 36 in the city of Houston
First seven games of the season played at Cougar Field
19 of first 21 games played in the city of Houston
First five weekends played in city of Houston - four at Cougar Field
Houston will host Opening Weekend for the ninth consecutive season
Cougars are 14-6 all-time during Opening Weekend under Whitting
Cougars have swept the last three Opening Weekend series under Whitting
Stay up to date with all Houston Baseball news and highlights by following us on Twitter @UHCougarBB or on Facebook at /HoustonCougarBaseball. Fans can also follow head coach Todd Whitting @toddwhitting on Twitter.