March 7, 2014
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - An all-around effort highlighted by a brilliant pitching performance by junior Aaron Garza helped Houston Baseball to a convincing 6-1 win on the road at USC Friday evening in Game 1 of the Dodgertown Classic.
The win was the 10th of the year for the Cougars as the Houston club improved to 10-2 on the year. USC fell to 8-4 with the loss.
Garza (8.0,5,1,0,0,2) made his fourth start of the year and his fourth straight victory for a 4-0 record. The right-hander tossed 8.0 innings without allowing an earned run or walk, allowing just five scattered hits to accompany two strikeouts.
His effort was backed by a solid defensive performance that saw plays being made all over the diamond - including highlights by senior first baseman Casey Grayson, senior shortstop Frankie Ratcliff and sophomore Josh Vidales.
Houston pounded out nine hits to out hit USC, 9-5. Eight Cougars recorded a hit in the game, led by sophomore Justin Montemayor's two base knocks and one run scored. Sophomore Ashford Fulmer notched a hit and drove in two runs, while freshman Jordan Stading (1x3, R, RBI), senior Caleb Barker (1x2,R, RBI), Vidales (1x4, R, RBI), and senior Landon Appling (0x2, RBI, SAC) all tallied an RBI. Grayson (1x4, R), Ratcliff (1x4, R) and sophomore Kyle Survance (1x3) all added hits in the win.
The Cougars had five RBI on the night, all of which came from the 6-9 hole hitters in the Houston lineup. Houston reached base seven times on walks by a USC pitching staff that saw five pitchers.
Houston used a patient eye at the plate in the first and took advantage of three walks and a single to jump out to a 1-0 lead. Barker drew a bases-loaded walk to plate Grayson, who had previously reached on a fielder's choice, moved to third on a single by Montemayor and a walk by Vidales.
It was a pitchers' duel for the next four innings, but the Cougars broke it open with three runs on three hits and a USC error in the sixth to take a 4-0 lead. Contributing in the sixth was Montemayor, who led off the inning with an infield single, followed by a Vidales bunt single and a sacrifice by Barker to put runners at second and third with one out. A high chopper by Stading, misplayed by the USC shortstop plated the first run of the inning, while Appling and Fulmer each followed with two-out RBI.
While nothing was brewing for USC, the Cougars took advantage of a leadoff walk by Ratcliff in the seventh, who came around to plate the game's fifth run, extending Houston's lead by five.
Garza has been stellar in his fourth start of the year, holding USC to just two hits through seven innings, while the Cougars tallied eight in those frames for five runs.
It didn't take Houston long to score again as it plated its sixth run in the eighth - its third straight sccoring frame - on a sacrifice fly by Fulmer, scoring Barker, who opened the frame with a single.
USC would score its only run in the ninth after a leadoff single, fielding error and sacrifice fly - the run was unearned for Garza.
Garza was relieved with two on and no outs in the ninth by senior Tyler Ford (1.0,0,0,0,0,0), who wrapped up the game, throwing a hitless ninth inning.
USC starter Kyle Twomey (6.0,8,4,2,3,5) took the loss after allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks in 6.0 innings to fall to 0-1 on the year.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
Thoughts on the game
"Well played game tonight. This is something we have been pounded to the team just to do our part. I thought we executed on offense as good as we have done all year. We were clicking on all cylinders from executing the short game to moving runners over to timely hits, great at-bats. [Aaron] Garza goes out and has a chance to throw a shutout in the ninth inning. It was the same for him being extremely competitive. We may have had a few errors on the board, but thought we played great defense throughout. The combination of pitching, defense and offense was great and it was our night."
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Houston will continue play out in Los Angeles, Calif. and part of the Dodgertown Classic on Saturday when it faces No. 9 and defending National Champion UCLA at 4 p.m. CT/2 p.m. PT at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Cougars will then travel to Malibu, Calif. on Sunday to take on Pepperdine at 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m. PT.
Saturday, March 8
Houston: RHP Jake Lemoine (So., Bridge City, Texas) - 0.42, 1-1, 21.2, 3 BB, 18 K
UCLA: LHP Grant Watson (Jr., Bakersfield, Calif.) - 2.37 ERA, 2-1, 19.0 IP, 5 BB, 18 K