HOUSTON - No. 21 Houston Baseball rode the arm of freshman Seth Romero and used timely hitting, including a five-run fourth inning to earn an 8-3 Silver Glove Series win over No. 8 Rice on Tuesday night at Cougar Field in front of 2,789 fans.
With the win, the Cougars improved their overall record to 14-7 and are now riding a six-game win streak, while Rice fell to 15-7 with the loss. The win also marked the fourth straight win against the Owls - the first since accomplishing that feat back in 1990-91.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
4 - Tonight's win marked the fourth straight win over the Owls after earning a season series sweep last season. The four wins is the most consecutive wins over Rice since four back in 1990-91.
5 - Five true freshmen saw action in tonight's game vs. Rice - including four in the starting lineup.
6 - The six-game win streak matches the Cougars' six-game streak to open this season.
9 - Seth Romero finished with a career-high nine strikeouts in his first career start.
15 - Kyle Survance stole his conference-leading 15 stolen base of the year.
23 - Freshman Zac Taylor scored another run, bringing his total to a team-leading 23 - scoring at least one in the last six games.
24 - Josh Vidales has reached base in 24 straight games, dating back to 2014.
Romero (6.1,6,2,0,1,9) made a strong showing in his first career start, striking out a career-high nine Rice Owls, without allowing an earned run on six scattered hits and one walk for his second win of the year, improving to 2-1.
Houston's offense threw up another crooked number in the hit category, connect on 11 hits - now fourth in the last five games with at least 10 hits. The offense was once again led by junior Josh Vidales - who reached base in his 23rd consecutive game, with a 1-for-4 night, one run scored and two RBI - on his second homerun of the year - a two-run shot in the seventh.
Freshman Zac Taylor went 3-for-3 with an RBI and another run scored his team-leading 23rd of the year. Adding to the hit column were freshman Corey Julks (1x3, R), junior Justin Montemayor (1x3, R), junior Kyle Survance (1x5, RBI, SB) and junior Ian Rice (1x3, 2 R, RBI).
A scoreless game was broken up in the fourth inning when Houston put together a five-hit inning that led to five runs for a 5-0 lead.
The inning began with a double off the bat of Iriart and followed up with a single up the middle by Montemayor. With runners at the corners and one out, Wong finds the right field line for a two-run base hit, reaching second and advancing to third on a fielding error.
Ahead 2-0, Rice continues the scoring effort with an RBI-single, plating Wong for a three-run lead. Julks added to the hits with a one-out single and Taylor walked - allowing Survance to plate Julks on a fielder's choice and Julks to score on a Rice throwing error to make it 5-0.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Rice used a walk, two hits and an error, which was followed by a two-run single to make it a 5-2 game.
With one out in the seventh, Rice executed a single and reached on a hit-by-pitch to put two runners on. With that, Romero handed the ball over to teammate Aaron Fletcher (1.1,1,1,0,0,1), who made a statement with a strikeout and flyout to end the threat.
Coming off a strong relief effort by Fletcher, the Cougars used that momentum to extend their lead when Taylor singled to open the latter half of the seventh. With one out, Vidales drove the second pitch he saw off Josh Pettitte over the right field wall to make it a 7-2 game.
After recording two outs in the eighth and allowing a runner to reach second, Fletcher handed the ball over to senior Jared Robinson (0.0,2,0,0,0,0,0), but Rice loaded the bases with two outs which forced Houston to make a call to the bullpen, bringing in senior Aaron Garza (1.1,0,0,0,0,2).
With bases loaded and two outs, Garza fanned the Owl to end the inning and returned in the ninth to close it out, earning his first save of his career.
Rice starter Jordan Stephens (3.0,3,1,1,0,3) suffered the loss, falling to 1-1 on the year after allowing one run on three hits in 3.0 innings of work.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
On the offense
"I think one of the biggest plays was the last two runs we scored when Survance got down the line. I tell the team all the time, that's what happens when you play hard and play fast you force teams to make mistakes. That was a big play for him to turn the double play for us."
On how it feels to go on the road trip with a win
"It's good to beat a team that has a high RPI. It's going to help our resume a little bit. I'm glad we got the win. We have a tough week ahead of us at New Mexico. They're a good team."
On how it feels to beat Rice four times in a row
"I just like to win games."
On what the plan is with Seth Romero
"The plan is to get him into the weekend rotation with Lemoine being out a couple of weeks. We want to get him on the weekends. It's his turn to throw. We didn't want him to throw on Sunday. We wanted him to throw today to get him in a big environment and prepare him for later on down the road."
On how he feels Romero handled tonight
"He was really good. His fastball was a 93, 94. He threw strikes. He had the one walk that set up the inning for them. He's not a freshman anymore - everyone is the same on this team. We all expect them to be at a high level."
On how he's handling the injuries
"We're just taking it one game at a time. We just try to win the next game because we don't have a tremendous amount of depth right now in our bullpen. Our starters need to go out and eat up the innings. They need to keep our pen in the bullpen as much as they can."
HOUSTON SECOND BASEMAN Josh Vidales
On how it feels to reach base
"It feels good. It didn't feel good when I took one in the leg, but that's baseball."
On how it feels to take four in a row against Rice
"It feels good. We had a good fan base come out and we just wanted to give them a good show."
On what he saw in teammate Seth Romero tonight
"A lot of maturity. I feel like the older guys were on him and they just kept telling him you're a good guy, a good pitcher, so go out there and act like it."
On if his mindset changes as he gets on base
"It pretty much stays the same. You can't look too far ahead, can't look at your past at bats. You just have to focus in on that one single at bat and do whatever you can to get on base."
On how the offense helps morale wise
"It helps. A win is a win, 1-0 or 8-3. We just have to go out there and win every single pitch."
On what he changed in the fourth inning
"I just kept battling. Trying to work the other way. You can't really make it too complicated as a hitter and start thinking too much. You just have to keep it simple.
Houston will hit the road for its first weekend series away from the city of Houston and outside the state of Texas when it travels to Albuquerque, N.M. to take on New Mexico in a three-game series, beginning Friday at 7 p.m. CT. The series will continue on Saturday with a 3 p.m. CT start and wrap on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT.
With 31 home games set for 2015 at Cougar Field and a Top 10 nationally-ranked program representing the University of Houston, the Cougars are proud to announce that single-game tickets are now on sale at UHCougars.com/Basetickets.
Along with the online option, fans can purchase tickets by visiting the Athletics Ticket Office at TDECU Stadium Monday through Friday, 10 a.m., to 5:30 p.m. or can call 713-GO-COOGS.
Houston Baseball will offer variable pricing on its single-game tickets and group rates.
For the first time ever, the pricing breakdown will be determined whether or not you purchase your single-game tickets online vs. at the gate the day of the game as well as whether the Cougars play on a weekday (Monday-Thursday) or weekend (Friday-Sunday).
Weekday: Monday-Thursday; Weekend: Friday-Sunday.
As noted in the table, variable pricing occurs. For weekday (Tuesday nights) online purchases, fans can take in a game, ranging from $5-$7 depending on the choice of seating. If you choose to purchase the day of the game as a Weekday Walk-Up, you will pay roughly $2 more than the online price ($7-$9).
Weekend (Friday-Sunday) online pricing will range from $6-$8 per game, while Weekend Walk-Up pricing the day of the game will run a fan anywhere from $8-$10.
Group rates are also available (as noted in the table). Weekday (Tuesday) and Weekend (Friday-Sunday) pricing occurs. Groups of 10-24 are set at $4-$5 per person, while groups of 25+ are $3-$4 per person.
With single-game tickets available now, Houston Baseball still encourages supporters to become Season Ticket members and enjoy the attractive pricing and rewards that come with up-front purchasing for the entire 2015 season.
WHY ARE SEASON TICKETS MORE ATTRACTIVE?
Season Tickets are as low as $99 for general admission seating and the program offers an Anytime Tickets package that allows fans to use the 31 tickets how they choose (1 per game, multiple per game or all in one game). The Anytime Tickets are only available in general admission seating.
For just $200, you can enjoy reserved chairback seating on the lower level of the concourse at the stadium.
A new additional "Reserved 2" seating option for the 2015 season is also available with an assigned seat in sections 200, 201 and 202 for $150.
If you breakdown the season ticket pricing of $99 General Admission, the pricing of $150 for Reserved 2 or even the pricing of $200 for Reserved 1 (chairback), you are spending less money per game than purchasing single-game tickets.
HOW TO PURCHASE
To purchase tickets in advance, fans must 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. or you can call 713-GO-COOGS.
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.
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.