HOUSTON -- Houston Baseball recorded its first shutout of 2016 sparked by an impressive combined shutout effort from junior pitcher John King and sophomore hurler Aaron Fletcher as the No. 12 Cougars earned a 4-0 win over Villanova Saturday night at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park.
The win improved Houston's record to 2-0 on the year and marked the 395th win at home, while Villanova fell to 0-2 in 2016.
A nine-strikeout, one-hit performance in just 6.0 innings of work by King set the tone for Houston as the Missouri City, Texas native, in his Cougar debut, earned the win.
Fletcher was equally dominant, tossing 3.0 hitless frames with three strikeouts for his first save of the season and second of his young career.
The Cougars and Wildcats will wrap up the three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park. Houston will continue its home stand on Tuesday with a 6:30 pm first pitch against McNeese State.
Sunday, February 21 - 1:00 p.m.
Sunday Kids Day: Kids Zone with inflatables, Kids Run the Bases, Postgame Autographs
The Houston offense jumped on Villanova early, helping King and Fletcher paved the way down the stretch. The Cougars tallied eight hits as an offensive unit, led by freshman Joe Davis, going 2-for-2 with two RBI and two walks to improve his season average to .667.
Sophomore Corey Julks joined the home run club, belting his first of the year for the other lone Houston RBI. The offense added five walks and forced Villanova into two errors to secure the four runs on Saturday.
With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Davis took a 1-1 pitch and drove it up the middle, plating both Wong and Hollis to put Houston up 2-0 early. Wong, for the second straight game, lead off with an extra base hit -- tonight -- a double into right center and was followed up with a walk from Hollis. Both moved into scoring position on a Villanova wild pitch.
King came out throwing strikes, retiring all three Villanova hitters in the top of the second on strikeouts. He continued his dominance, striking out five in a row during one stretch and totaling seven through 4.0 complete innings.
Houston made some noise in the latter half of the fourth when Davis, Montemayor and Morris all reached with one out, but Villanova starter Ryan Doty escaped the jam, retiring the next two Cougars to keep Houston off the board.
After being held scoreless for three straight innings, Julks didn't waste long to belt his first homerun of the season as he drove a 3-2 pitch into the McDonald's parking lot, putting Houston ahead, 3-0.
King continued to roll, recording his ninth strikeout in the top of the sixth, registering his sixth straight scoreless inning. He handed the ball over to sophomore Aaron Fletcher, who combined with junior Jose Reyes for two great defensive plays -- keeping Villanova off the board and King's shutout in tact.
Fletcher was lights out in the final three innings, retiring the side in each frame for the save.
Villanova was held to just one hit, while King and Fletcher combined for 12 strikeouts and just two walks.
Wildcat starter Ryan Doty (5.0,5,3,3,1,9) fanned nine, but would allow three runs on five hits and one walk to suffer the loss.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
"[John] King going out tonight, it was his first collegiate start at Houston, and he was tough as nails. That is exactly what we have been getting out of him in intrasquads and scrimmages since day one of the fall. It was good to see that he could translate that into the game, and then [Aaron] Fletcher comes in and does his deal; it was a well pitched game."
On the pitching staff
"The rotation is fine, the bullpen is good, so far so good with the pitching. They are coming in throwing strikes and we are playing great defense behind them. If we continue to do that it will set us up for a lot of success later."
On King's outing
"They couldn't hit a fastball for a strikes, off speed stuff for strikes, he had a fastball that was running and sinking late, he had really good movement on his ball, and he maintained velocity throughout the whole outing. He went out there and competed well. When you go out there and compete, good things will happen to you."
Junior starter John King
On his first collegiate start at Houston
"It feels great. There are really no words to describe it. We jumped out to an early lead and that really helped me go the whole way. I tried to throw it in there and do what I do best."
On the pitching staff
"We have a deep staff. Anyone can step up at anytime and that is what makes us a great team."
On his mechanics
"I just kept doing the same thing to every hitter, what I do best, which was keep it low, put a lot of movement on it, and go out there and throw it. When the game is close the heart starts going faster, especially in my first start. I've never pitched in front of a crowd like this, but once I got those two runs I settled down, relaxed and did my thing."
On following up [Andrew] Lantrip's outing
"It is tough to follow him [Andrew Lantrip] up. He is a great pitcher. I just tried to stay within myself, let the team play behind me, and everything worked out for the best."
JOIN THE DUGOUT CLUB
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
BUY SEASON/ SINGLE-GAME / GROUP TICKETS
Houston Baseball will play 32 home games at Cougar Field this upcoming 2016 season and fans can purchase season tickets for as low as $99 online by visiting UHCougars.com/tickets and following the appropriate links or by clicking here.
To purchase tickets in person, fans can 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.
Houston Baseball will offer variable pricing on its single-game tickets and group rates.
As noted in the table above, variable pricing occurs. For weekday (Tuesday/Wednesday) games, prices range from $5-$7 depending on the choice of seating.
Weekend ((Thursday) Friday-Sunday) online pricing will range from $6-$8 per game.
Group rates are also available (as noted in the table). Weekday (Tuesday/Wednesday) and Weekend ((Thursday) Friday-Sunday) pricing occurs. Groups of 10-24 are set at $4-$5 per person, while groups of 25+ are $3-$4 per person.
All UH main campus students are admitted FREE to regular-season baseball home games with a valid student ID.
2016 SCHEDULE QUICK HITS
32 home games; 38 in the city of Houston
First 12 games of the season will be played in the city of Houston
21 of the first 25 games will be played in the city of Houston
18 of the first 25 games will be played at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park
Houston will host Opening Weekend for the 11th consecutive season
Cougars are 14-1 all-time during Opening Weekend under Todd Whitting
Houston to make 16th straight appearance in Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park
Cougars to face Texas Tech, Arkansas and TCU
Cougars own a 20-25 all-time record in tournament; has earned seven wins over Top 30 teams
Houston has three first-time opponents on the schedule: Villanova, Grand Canyon, George Washington
RICE & TEXAS IN SUGAR LAND, TEXAS AT CONSTELLATION FIELD
Houston will meet both Texas (April 12) and Rice (May 17) for non-conference, midweek games at Sugar Land's Constellation Field.
NCAA TOURNAMENT COMPETITION
20 games this season will be played against an NCAA-tournament team from 2015
Arkansas, TCU, Texas Southern, Rice, Texas A&M, East Carolina, Texas, USF, Tulane
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.