Feb. 16, 2014
HOUSTON - Backed by another dominating starting pitching performance, Houston Baseball swept the Opening Weekend series against Nicholls State after posting a 3-2 win over the Colonels on Sunday afternoon at Cougar Field.
The win pushed Houston's 2014 record to a perfect 3-0 and the weekend sweep was the first weekend non-conference home sweep since the 2012 series opener vs. Delaware.
For the third straight game, Houston's starting pitching was impressive on all accounts, but the most notable was the fact that junior Aaron Garza and sophomores Jake Lemoine and Jared West as all combined for 21 scoreless innings during the weekend series.
Making just his third start in his collegiate career on Sunday, West (7.0,1,0,0,0,4) put together arguably one of the best starts by a Cougar of late, allowing just one hit over 7.0 shutout innings without surrendering a walk, adding four strikeouts to his line.
West rode a perfect game through 6.2 innings, until a two-out double gave the Colonels their first base runner of the game.
The Frierson, La. native earned his first collegiate victory with the effort and notched career-highs in both innings pitched and strikeouts, while throwing just 63 pitches.
Offensively, the Cougars posted 11 hits, but stranded 16 base runners, including two bases-loaded innings. The 11 hits were sparked by two doubles off the bat of senior shortstop Frankie Ratcliff.
Leading the way with three hits, a run scored and an RBI was sophomore second baseman Josh Vidales (3x5, R, RBI). He was followed up by Ratcliff's (2x3, R, RBI, 2B, BB) two doubles, run and RBI, while sophomores Ashford Fulmer (2x3, R) and Justin Montemayor (2x5) each tallied two base knocks.
Adding to his weekend, senior Casey Grayson (1x4, 2 BB) notched another base hit to finish his weekend reaching base in eight of his 12 plate appearances, while senior Jacob Lueneburg (1x4) also recorded a hit in the win.
It didn't take long for the Cougars to grab an early lead when they plated a run in the bottom half of the first following an RBI-double by Ratcliff, which scored Vidales, who led off the inning with a single up the middle.
After stranding two on base in the second, Houston was able to add to its lead in the third with another run, scored by Ratcliff after a leadoff walk. With Ratcliff in scoring position following a single by Grayson, Pyeatt laid down a perfectly executed squeeze bunt, plating Ratliff for a 2-0 lead.
Continuing to play solid defense behind West's impressive effort on the mound, the Cougars held Nicholls State's offense in check and used an RBI-single by Vidales, scoring Fulmer for a 3-0 advantage through four complete.
The one hit allowed by West came in the sixth, but Nicholls State stranded hitter who notched the two-out double at second with an inning-ending flyout.
Sophomore junior college transfer RHP Bubba Maxwell (0.2,2,2,2,0,2) made his first appearance for the Cougars in a 0.2-inning relief effort in the eighth. Nicholls State would use two hits and plate two runs on a bloop double that landed right on the left field line to trim Houston's lead to 3-2.
Senior LHP Tyler Ford (1.1,1,0,0,0,2) fanned two in his 1.1 innings out of the pen for the late-game save - his first of the year and third of his Cougar career.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
Thoughts on the game
"It was well pitched. Jared West ... our Sunday starter went out, and did exactly what he's been doing in practice. Took a no hitter into the sixth inning, had a low pitch count, commanded the zone. He was outstanding today setting the tone. We scuffled a little bit on offense, but we caught a few breaks here and there to score a couple runs, and it ended up being enough."
On the starting pitching this weekend.
"They all pitched deep in the game. It was a great effort by all three of them. You can't take away the effort by our bullpen either. They kept it lockdown and tight. If we pitch like that the rest of the way we'll have a lot of success."
Sophomore Jared West
On his outing today
"I went out there knowing I had to throw a lot of strikes to get people out, and that's what I did. I went out there pounding the zone, and was able to get outs today."
On the rotation play this weekend
"I feel like we're a solid three starters as a unit. We all threw seven shutout innings, and that's pretty solid. They obviously are good pitchers themselves, and with me I feel like I can make an impact as well."
Senior Frankie Ratcliff
On the game today
"We had a close one there at the end. (Jared) West did a tremendous job pitching today; he had all of his stuff working today. It's good to see him bounce back from a little bit of a tough year last year. West did a great job today, and we got the bats going more today. We need to tighten up on the timely hitting aspect."
Houston will return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 19 when it travels across 288 to face Rice in a 4:30 p.m. start at Reckling Park. The Cougars will then return home to host Michigan in a three-game set next weekend (Feb. 21-23) at Cougar Field Game times are slated for 6:30 pm/6:30 pm/11:30 am.
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