HOUSTON -- University of Houston Baseball used a five-run fifth inning and a solid pitching outing by senior starter Matt Hernandez to garner a 9-3 victory over Northeastern at Cougar Field in Friday's season opener.
7 Houston has now one seven straight Opening Weekend games under head coach Todd Whitting.
10 Houston tallied 10 hits in tonight's 9-3 win.
The Cougars improved to 1-0 on the year, while Northeastern fell to 0-1.
After allowing a two-run first to Northeastern, the Cougars settled down and bounced back with a five-run third to take the lead and never look back.
The five-run frame was sparked by a solo shot off the bat of freshman Justin Montemayor, who belted his first homerun of his collegiate career on the first pitch he saw in a Cougar uniform.
Following two outs, the inning continued with a two-run double by freshman Josh Vidales. After a hit-by-pitch and walk, junior Caleb Barker kept the frame alive with a bases loaded single, driving in two to put Houston up 3-2.
Another hit-by-pitch followed to load the bases for the second time that inning, allowing sophomore Michael Pyeatt to drive in two on his single to left field. Up 5-2, Houston continued to string together impressive plate appearances, adding to its lead in the latter half of the fourth when junior Frankie Ratcliff tacked on two RBI with his single through the left side, lifting the Cougars to a 7-2 lead.
Senior Matt Hernandez (6.0,9,2,2,0,5) pitched a gem after surrendering two early runs to the Huskies. The left-hander settled in to finish with five scoreless innings and earn his first win of the year and second of his Houston career. He tossed 6.0 complete innings, allowing nine hits and two runs with no walks and five strikeouts for the victory.
Northeastern threatened in the top of the third, looking to extend its lead, but following a two-run single, freshman Ashford Fulmer gunned down the runner trying to score from second base, keeping the score 2-0 before Houston went on to take the lead.
Freshman Jared West (1.1,1,1,1,1,1) relieved Hernandez in the seventh to toss 1.1 innings in his collegiate debut. Northeastern was able to plate its final run in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly, but Houston quickly responded with two more runs to cap the win in the bottom half of the eighth. After back-to-back singles by Pyeatt and Montemayor, freshman Kyle Kirk laid down a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt to put runners in scoring position for Fulmer and Vidales to drive in runs on a sacrifice fly and RBI single, respectively.
Junior Chase Wellbrock (1.2,1,0,0,0,1) fanned one and didn't allow a run in 1.2 innings of work out of the pen for the Cougars. The righty relieved West in the eighth and shutout the Huskies during the final two frames.
Houston finished with 10 hits, led by Vidales' 4-for-5 effort, one run scored and one RBI. Picking up two knocks and two RBI was Pyeatt (2-4, 2 RBI, R), while Montemayor (2-4, 2 R, RBI) added two hits, including his solo homerun.
Contributing to the offensive mix was Ratcliff (1-3, R, 2 RBI) and Barker (1-4, R, 2 RBI), each with two RBI apiece.
POST-GAME QUOTES Head Coach Todd Whitting On the overall game and the timely hitting "I'm really excited about the performance we got tonight. The most impressive thing to me was the fact that we went down early with a young club, and it would have been easy for them to shut it down. They kept fighting and they truly played it `one pitch at a time'. The play that turned the game around was (Ashford) Fulmer's assist from right field to throw the guy out at home plate. Then we came back in the bottom of the inning and Monty (Justin Montemayor) hits a solo shot on the first pitch he saw. That changed the game and after that we were on our way."
On senior starter Matt Hernandez "Herny was good. He got a little roughed up in the first inning, but I thought that the whole team was jittery. It didn't surprise me at all. At one point we had six freshmen in the game, and even though Herny is a senior, it's his first time out. Once he was able to get his fastball down, he was tough."
Freshman second baseman Josh Vidales On his 4-5 performance in his first collegiate game "It was a complete team effort tonight. We came out a little shaky, but we weren't nervous as much as we were anxious. We were able to bounce back on (Justin) Montemayor's bomb. Ashford's throw to home really changed the momentum for us to get the victory tonight."
SATURDAY BINGO AT THE BALLPARK · Come out to Cougar Field every Saturday for Bingo at the Ballpark. · Fans will be given a Houston Cougar Bingo card that they can fill out as they watch the game. · Support the Coogs, play Bingo and win exciting Houston Cougar prizes! SUNDAY KIDS DAY · Every Sunday is Kids Day at Cougar Field. · Bring the family and enjoy an afternoon of baseball with the Houston Cougars. · Kids will have the opportunity to participate in National Anthem Buddies, Kids Run the Bases, as well as a special post-game autograph session with the team.
SINGLE-GAME TICKETS Single-game tickets begin as low as $6 for youth and $8 for adults in general admission seating (Level 200) and as low as $8 for youth and $10 for adults in reserved seating (Level 100). Premium games for the Cougars will include the Baylor-New Orleans weekend, which runs from March 15-17, Texas on March 19 and the Rice series on April 19-21. Premium games begin as low as $8 for youth and $10 for adults in general admission seating (Level 200) and as low as $12 for youth and $15 for adults in reserved seating (Level 100).
For single-game ticket information, click here or contact the Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647).
UP NEXT The Cougars will continue the three-game series with Northeastern at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and wrap at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. NOTE: The originally scheduled Sunday game was for 1 p.m., but will now be played at 11:30 a.m.