March 8, 2014
No. 9 UCLA (7-7)
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Never backing down after falling behind 3-0, Houston Baseball used timely hitting and a gritty pitching effort by sophomore Jake Lemoine to come-from-behind and earn a 4-3 win at No. 9 and defending National Champion UCLA Saturday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The win improved Houston's 2014 record to 11-2, while earning its third road win of the season. The victory over the Bruins was also the third win over a ranked team this season after defeating No. 11 Rice and No. 26 Texas Tech earlier this year.
Lemoine (7.0,10,3,3,1,4) was brilliant in his final six frames, shutting UCLA out after they tagged the right-hander with three runs on five hits in the first inning. He settled in and competed, allowing the Cougars to claw back for the win. The victory improved Lemoine's record to 2-1 on a 7.0-inning, 10-hit, three-run outing, which saw one walk and four strikeouts. Lemoine has now pitched into the seventh in all four starts this season.
Senior Chase Wellbrock (2.0,0,0,0,0,2) was equally impressive in his 2.0-inning save performance, striking out two and tossing 2.0-hitless innings to preserve the win and earn his fourth save of the year.
With today's save, the Brenham, Texas native has now tied the Houston saves record with 16 career saves. He joins Ryan Wagner, who tallied 16 during his pitching days in 2002-03.
Houston and UCLA were equal in hits with 10 apiece as four Cougars notched a multi-hit game. Two of Houston's runs came on two-out RBI off the bats of senior Caleb Barker and sophomore Justin Montemayor. Both Barker (2x4, RBI) and Montemayor (2x4, R, RBI) came up in clutch situations and delivered in the win. Adding to the hit barrage with two base knocks were sophomores Kyle Survance (2x5, R) and Josh Vidales (2x4). Seniors Frankie Ratcliff (1x5, R) and Landon Appling (1x3) picked up hits, while sophomore Michael Pyeatt (BB, R) drew a walk and scored a run.
UCLA jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first after tallying five hits on Houston starter Lemoine. The Cougars notched a hit in the first three innings, but weren't able to get anything brewing until they took advantage of a two-out error by UCLA, scoring their first run after Survance doubled in the third.
It took the Cougars a few innings to find holes after tagging the ball in all directions most of the game. Houston would trim the Bruins' lead to 3-2 with a run in the sixth when Montemayor got things rolling with a two-out single, which was followed by two singles by Vidales and Barker.
Houston's big scoring inning came in the seventh when it was able to a leadoff walk by Pyeatt, a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Ashford Fulmer, a fielding error by UCLA and a two-out RBI-single by Montemayor to take the 4-3 lead late.
The defense turned several double plays to keep UCLA in check and off the scoreboard during the final eight innings, including an infield single that was picked up by Vidales at second, thrown to Barker at the plate and then relayed down to Ratcliff at short for the 3426 DP to keep UCLA from scoring in the sixth.
Fulmer then came up huge with a caught fly ball and a ball gunned to Grayson at first for the double play after a leadoff single by UCLA in the eighth.
Lemoine handed the ball off the Wellbrock in the eighth and the duo combined for the win and save, respectively - holding UCLA scoreless in the final eight innings after allowing three runs in the first.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
Thoughts on the game
"Today you have to tip your cap to Jake Lemoine. That was one of his least effective outings as far as stuff, but he absolutely competed. He just did a tremendous job of going out and competing with what he had today. We had a couple of miscues early as we got out of the box a little slow and let them score a couple of runs, but this team is resilient - they keep playing. We had a whole list of clutch plays, offensively and defensively throughout. I'm really proud of them. Anytime you come on the road and beat the defending National Champion - you have to tip your hat to them for that, but we need to be ready to go tomorrow [at Pepperdine]."
On today's clutch hitting
"Today's clutch hitting was huge. Half of the runs we scored came on two-out RBI. That just shows how they are not afraid to go up there and battle with two strikes. Up and down our lineup, we had a tone of positives and even a tremendous job of baserunning.
On wrapping up the weekend at Pepperdine Sunday
"Tomorrow is going to be a huge test again. Pepperdine is playing better than anyone in this tournament right now. They have had a great season thus far. Both teams are 2-0 going into Sunday, we have a chance, although it's a small championship, we have a chance to win a tournament. If there is something on the line, we need to show up and be ready to play."
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Houston will wrap up the weekend's `Dodgertown Classic' when it travels to Malibu, Calif. for a 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m. PT game at Pepperdine Sunday. The Cougars and Waves both enter the weekend finale with wins over USC and No. 9 UCLA.