Five-Run Fifth, Relief Pitching Lift Houston to a 7-6 Win Over No. 30 Texas A&M
March 2, 2013
HOUSTON -- Houston Baseball put together another impressive performance, tallying 12 hits, while garnering a strong relief pitching outing en route to a 7-6 win over No. 30 Texas A&M in the Astros Foundation College Classic at Minute Maid Park on Friday evening.
FINAL | Minute Maid Park (Houston, Texas)
NUMBERS OF NOTE
1 The 7-6 win over Texas A&M marked the first win of Daniel Smith's career; the first save for Chase Wellbrock this season, and the Cougars' first win over a ranked opponent this season.
7 With the win against the Aggies, the Cougars picked up their seventh win against a Top 30 opponent in the 13-year history of the Astros Foundation College Classic.
8.2 Cougar starting pitchers have gone 8.2 consecutive innings without a walk dating back to the Sunday game in the Texas State series.
9 The nine hits the Cougars collected off of Texas A&M starter Kyle Martin matched his career high for hits allowed (Texas Tech, 5/6/2012).
A five-run fifth led to a Cougar lead, which held on late for Houston's seventh win this year to improve to 7-2 and 17-20 all-time in College Classic games. The win also marked the seventh win over a Top 30 team in the 13 years participating.
Junior Frankie Ratcliff (3x4, R, RBI, HR) led the offensive attack with three hits, a Houston season-best, including his first homerun as a Cougar to lead off the fifth inning.
Freshmen Josh Vidales (2x4, R, RBI), Justin Montemayor (2x5, R, RBI) and junior Caleb Barker (2x4, 2 R) each produced a multi-hit game with two knocks, while freshmen Kyle Kirk (1x3, R, 2 RBI) and Kyle Survance (1x4, 2 RBI) each drove in a career-best two RBI.
After a leadoff walk on a seven-pitch at-bat by Vidales, Ratcliff drove in a one-out single to right field to put runners at the corners. Montemayor squared up a two-out pitch to drive in Vidales from third with his single to right field - putting Houston up 1-0 in the first.
Texas A&M struck for three runs in the latter half of the first after the Aggies strung together three extra base hits. Down 3-1, senior starter Matt Hernandez settled in to throw two scoreless innings as Houston narrowed the deficit to 3-2 when Barker scored on a two-out RBI-single by Vidales.
The Aggies added another run in the fourth after a one-out hit-by-pitch and single.
Ratcliff came up big in the fifth to open the frame with his first homerun as a Cougar on a 1-1 pitch that cleared the right field wall.
Junior Jonathan Davis and Montemayor followed up with back-to-back singles then Barker laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, while reaching base after all runners were safe. Kirk followed with a two-run single up the middle and Survance added to the RBI-mix with two RBI on a single into centerfield as Houston took the lead at 7-4.
Texas A&M's Jonathan Moroney belted a homerun to left field to trim the Cougars' lead to two runs and later came another Texas A&M run in the seventh to make it a one-run game.
The relief pitching by junior transfer Daniel Smith (1.2,1,1,1,0,0) and junior Chase Wellbrock (4.0,5,1,1,1,3) was superb as the two combined to throw 5.2 innings, allowing just six hits and two runs to hold Houston's late lead.
Smith (1-0) earned his first win as a Cougar as he was the pitcher of record when Houston took the lead and held on in the fifth. Wellbrock picked up his first save this season and second of his career - tossing 4.0 innings with three strikeouts - none bigger than the strikeout swinging with bases loaded to end the game.
Hernandez (3.1,6,4,4,0,1) tossed 3.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with one strikeouts for the no-decision.
Texas A&M starter Kyle Martin (0-2) (4.0,9,7,7,2,4) lasted just 4.0 innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits with four strikeouts for the loss.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
Thoughts on the game
"Well it wasn't a lot of fun to coach until the end. We had two strikes on three straight hitters to win the game, and it never felt like the game was over. Texas A&M has a great team, and I told the ball club today that they were going to come at us hard. They play as hard as anybody in the country, but I'm really proud of the effort I got from my guys tonight."
On the five run fifth inning
"What we try to do in our program is not worry about momentum, but just keep playing. `so what' is a huge saying in our program we yell in our dugout all the time. Anytime something bad happens `so what' it's a long game, and sometimes it's a cruel game. We've done that for a week now, and won a lot of close games that most teams would have shut it down."
On the bullpen work
"It was huge, and those guys coming out of the bullpen were lights out. Daniel Smith threw outstanding. You're talking about a guy who was a walk on catcher who never pitched, and now he's pitching. (Chase) Wellbrock is tough as nails out there, and he kept pounding the zone which forced them to get the action going."
On the Frankie Ratcliff home run
"That is Frankie Ratcliff as advertised right there. That's what we are looking for from him is to sit there in the three hole and be a force. He played great tonight, and played great on defense. When he came to home plate, you felt like something good was going to happen."
HOUSTON JUNIOR SHORTSTOP Frankie Ratcliff
On the fifth inning home run
"You always want to go up there, and set the tone while having good at bats. When you start off the inning the goal is to get the guys fired up, and we had a good inning being able to get the guys around like that to score some runs."
HOUSTON JUNIOR RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER Chase Wellbrock
On the pressure closing out the game
"It was really nerve-wracking, just being in a big league park, playing against a state rival in Texas A&M. We always want to come out, and beat those guys. It's a great feeling to come out tonight, and get the win. We played all around great baseball tonight. We hit well, fielded well, and pitched well. It was an all-around team effort."
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