Feb. 28, 2012
HOUSTON—The University of Houston baseball team scored first, but would see its 1-0 lead slip away as No. 5 Rice took advantage of four Cougar errors, dropping Houston 4-1 at Cougar Field on Tuesday night.
With the loss, the Cougars evened their overall record to 4-4, while Rice remained perfect at 9-0 and took Game 1 of the 2012 Silver Glove Series.
“From where we were last year against Rice, I thought we played really well and played right with them tonight,” said head coach Todd Whitting.
Houston starter Austin Pruitt (6.0,5,3,2,2,7) pitched a gem despite suffering the loss against the Owls. The right-hander, in his first start as a Cougar, tossed 6.0 complete innings, allowing just two earned runs on five scattered hits and two walks, while fanning a career-best seven.
Pruitt and defense held Rice out of scoring position for the first four innings, including a straight retired three in the second, third and fourth frames.
“He is a really good pitcher and he is going to be a great pitcher for us this year. I love his effort on the mound,” said Whitting on Pruitt.
Houston plated the game’s first run as freshman Zack Gibson drove a sinking liner to centerfield for a base hit that plated junior Casey Grayson from second. The fourth-inning-Houston run was the first run scored by the Cougars in 18 innings. It was also the second game of the year that Houston scored first.
Rice wouldn’t allow Houston a lead for long as the Owls used two hits and one walk in the fifth to plate two runs for the lead.
The Owls added a run in the sixth on two Cougar errors and two hits and one final run in the seventh on two Houston miscues—the fourth of the night.
Pruitt and staff kept Rice hitters off balance all night, despite giving up four runs. Pruitt was relieved in the seventh by junior Aaron Stewart (0.2,0,1,0,0,0), followed by senior Mo Wiley (1.1,0,0,0,0,2) who fanned two in just 1.1 innings of work and senior Jordan Lewis (1.0,0,0,0,0,0) who tossed a scoreless ninth. The staff held Rice to five scattered hits.
At the plate, Houston tallied four base knocks, led by junior Taylor White with a 2-for-3 effort. Gibson (1x4, RBI) followed with one hit and an RBI, while Grayson (1x3, R) scored Houston’s only run and garnered a single.
Rice starter Andrew Benak (5.0,3,1,1,4,4) earned the win after allowing one earned run, his first of the year, on three hits with four strikeouts.
“If we continue to play with this effort and we play hard, we will get those key hits that we need,” said Whitting.
Houston concludes his eight-game home slate and will now take its talent downtown to Minute Maid Park this weekend as it competes in the Houston College Classic, presented by Ticketmaster. The Cougars will open play on Friday against Tennessee at 3:30 p.m., followed by a Saturday-Noon contest against Arkansas and a 2:30 p.m. Sunday contest against Texas Tech.
For more information on the Houston College Classic and ticket information, visit www.astros.com.