Feb. 19, 2014
No. 11 RICE (3-2)
HOUSTON - Houston Baseball used timely hitting and another impressive pitching performance to earn yet another shutout victory, defeating No. 11 Rice, 3-0 Wednesday evening at Reckling Park in the first of three games vs. the Owls this season.
The win moved Houston's 2014 record to a perfect 4-0, while Rice fell to 3-2 on the year.
Houston Baseball may have only scratched out five hits, but two of the base knocks came in the most crucial time with two-outs and runners in scoring position off the bats of seniors Casey Grayson and Caleb Barker.
Three of the four wins this season have come in a shutout for the Cougars, led by dominating pitching that has seen 35.0 shutout innings of baseball. The 3-0 shutout win was the first shutout over the Owls since a 3-0 win on May 12, 2006 at Reckling Park.
Junior Matt Locus and senior Tyler Ford led the pitching staff in tonight's win. The lefty duo allowed just four hits in 9.0 shutout innings. Locus (3.2,2,0,0,2,2), making his first career start as a Cougar, pitched 3.2 innings, allowing two hits, no runs, two walks with two strikeouts. He was relieved in the fourth by Ford (5.1,2,0,0,0,2) - who lasted 5.1 innings, tying his Houston career-high, which came in relief of Penn State a year ago. Ford earned his first win of the year and third as a Cougar, allowing no runs on just two scattered hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
Leading the way offensively for Houston was Barker (1x4, 2 RBI) who drove in two of the Cougars' three runs on a double. He was followed by Grayson (1x3, R, RBI, BB) with an RBI-double, run scored and walk, while junior Michael Pyeatt contributed with two base knocks. Both senior Frankie Ratcliff and sophomore Justin Montemayor scored runs after reaching base on walks.
Grayson put Houston up 1-0 in the top of the first with his two-out RBI double into left center, scoring Ratcliff after his walk. Holding onto an early lead, Locus continued his dominance, keeping Rice hitters off balance all night, finishing with 3.2 innings, holding the Owls to just two his and no runs.
A scare came in the fourth when Rice loaded the bases, but Houston called on lefty Ford as the came in and escaped the jam, fanning the hitter for the third out of the inning. That effort preserved Houston's 1-0 lead.
Ford went on to tie his career-high in innings and worked a Rice offense to just two hits. He was provided two late inning insurance runs when the Cougars' Grayson drew a two-out walk in the ninth. Montemayor followed with a walk to put runners at first and second with two outs. On a 3-2 count with two outs, Barker drove the next pitch he saw into the right field corner, plating both Grayson and Montemayor to put Houston up 3-0 late.
That three-run lead held tight as Ford returned to close out the game in the bottom of the ninth, facing Rice's 3-4-5 hitters in the final frame, where he induced three fly outs to centerfield.
Rice used three pitchers as starter Matt Dittman (7.1,4,1,1,1,1) suffered the loss, allowing one run on four hits in a career-long 7.1 innings.
The Silver Glove Series vs. Rice will continue on March 25 at Cougar Field and will conclude on May 13 at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
"Another outstanding outing from our pitching staff tonight. Matt Locus goes out in his first start at the Division I level in a big game. This is a big game for us, not only because it's Rice a cross-town rival, but it's a road game against a ranked team. When you're trying to build a resume for the future, this is a big one. I'm really proud of the effort. (Tyler) Ford comes in, a big strikeout with the bases loaded in the late part of the game, and timely hits - that's a combination of championship baseball right there."
On the pitching tonight
"Both of them [Locus, Ford] kept hitters off balance all night. They [hitters] never had a chance to sink in there and grab a pitch, or do anything with it. Any threat they had tonight we had an answer for them. Once again, we played great defense tonight. Tonight was one of our best nights at home plate. We scuffled a bit putting runs on the board, but we had great at bats all the way through with line drives all over the field, hard ground balls, and minimal strikeouts. All the way around, it was a great game."
On the pitching staff so far this year
"It's really incredible. They [Locus, Ford] are making us go right now. Anytime you come out, and keep the other team from scoring it's hard to lose that way. It all started with Matt Locus today, keeping the ball low and pounding the strike zone. He was really aggressive with everything he had. Being able to get a run on the board early helped us tonight."
On the timely hits tonight
"We had a couple opportunities where we didn't score, and that's going to happen in baseball. (Casey) Grayson with the big two out double in the first inning to get us on the board was a huge momentum shift. Late in the game we were just looking to add insurance. Rice was threatening all night, they had guys in scoring position numerous times. Being able to provide a big hit I think gave us a big lift."
On your performance tonight
"We always play the way (Todd) Whitting says which is one pitch at a time. We've built confidence in ourselves as a team, that if we score one run we can get outs and get a win."
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 midweek game (Tues., March 11), the Rice midweek game (Tues., March 25) and the Louisville weekend series (April 11-13). Premium games begin as low as $7 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).
By visiting UHCougars.com, clicking the Tickets link, and then Purchase Tickets, while following the appropriate links to the Baseball page or by clicking here, fans can begin purchasing tickets for single games at Cougar Field this season.
FAMILY PLAN TICKET PACKAGE
Families can purchase the Family Plan for just $399, which includes two adult and two youth General Admission tickets to each of the remaining 30 home games.
General Admission seats include 33 "Anytime Tickets". You may use one ticket to each home game, 33 tickets to one game, or any combination in between.
General Admission season tickets start for as low as $150 (33 home games/$4.50 per ticket), while Reserved season tickets start at only $200 (33 home games/$6.00 per ticket).
To purchase, visit the Tickets tab, Purchase Tickets, while following the appropriate links to the Baseball page under Season Tickets or by clicking here.
For questions or concerns, call or visit the Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or 877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275).
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.
Houston will welcome Big Ten foe, Michigan, to Cougar Field this weekend in a three-game set, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. The series will continue at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and wrap up at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Any kid 8th grade and under wearing a Houston Baseball Camp t-shirt to any home game will received FREE ADMISSION!