ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - In a series that saw three one-run games eventually ended in favor of No. 21 Houston Baseball as the Cougars played errorless baseball all weekend and swept the non-conference road series at New Mexico with an 8-7 Sunday win at Lobo Field.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 17-7 on the year and upped their win streak to nine straight games - the longest since tallying nine to open the 2014 season.
The sweep marked the first non-conference road series sweep since March 12-14, 2010 at Cal Poly.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
0 - Houston has yet to commit an error in New Mexico - in 27.0 total innings.
1 - The weekend sweep marked the first non-conference road series sweep since 2010.
3 - Houston swept an opponent for the third time this season (Minnesota, Buffalo, New Mexico).
9 - The nine-game win streak is the longest win streak for the Cougars since a nine-game streak opening the 2014 season.
10 - With Montemayor's single in the first - he now has a hit in the last 10 games.
10 - Connor Wong has reached base in 10 straight games as a true freshman.
16 - Houston hit two homeruns on Sunday to bring its total to 16 on the year - 1 shy of last year's 17.
27 - Josh Vidales has reached base in 27 straight games, dating back to 2014.
With a series sweep on the line, Houston handed the ball over to freshman Seth Romero (3.0,2,2,2,1,5) to close it out as the left hander struck out five in 3.0 innings for his third win of the year and second of the week. Romero fanned two in the seventh to keep New Mexico off the board and would return to keep the Lobos in check late after they threatened by scoring in four of the final five innings.
Senior Taylor Cobb (5.0,7,3,3,1,0) made his second start of the year and in 5.0 innings, allowed three runs on seven hits with a walk.
The Cougars used a combination of power and manufactured runs to win 8-7 as Houston tallied 11 hits on the afternoon.
Leading the charge was freshman Connor Wong (2x3, 3 R, 3 RBI) - who belted his third homerun of the year to accompany a career-tying three RBI and a career-best three runs on the day.
Junior Chris Iriart (1x4, R, 2 RBI) continued his hot-hitting with his sixth homerun of the year and second of the weekend, while driving in two - which included the game-winning sacrifice fly RBI in the ninth.
Junior Ian Rice (1x4, R, RBI), junior Jacob Campbell (1x4, RBI), and junior Ashford Fulmer (1x4, RBI) each had a hit and drove in a run. Adding to the hit column for the Cougars was junior Kyle Survance (1x5, R), junior Josh Vidales (1x5, R), junior Justin Montemayor (1x5) and freshman Zac Taylor (1x4).
The Houston offense got off to another hot start in the top of the first when the Cougars strung together three hits to plate two runs and go ahead 2-0. Vidales got things going with a 1-out double down the left field line and then Iriart walked. Rice followed up to drive in Vidales on an RBI-single and then Wong plated Iriart on an RBI-groundout.
New Mexico responded with a run of its own in the latter half of the inning on a solo homerun off the bat of Chris DeVito.
Ahead 2-1, the Cougars would use their power with two homeruns in the top of the third for three runs to extend its lead to 5-1. Iriart would crush his second homerun of the weekend and team-leading sixth of the year on the first pitch he saw in the third. With two outs in the inning, Wong would belt his third homerun of the freshman's debut season to put Houston ahead by four.
New Mexico threatened in the third when its first three hitters reach, which included an RBI-single, but Vidales would rob the Lobos with a line drive double play and a nice play to end the frame keeping the offensive threat to a minimum in that inning.
Houston was held scoreless in the fourth and fifth, while New Mexico would use two more hits in the fifth to score another run, making it a 2-run game at 5-3.
Wong opened the sixth with a leadoff triple - his third of the year and then would score on a chopper that landed for an infield single off the bat of Campbell to out the Cougars up 6-3.
The Lobos trim the Cougars' lead to two at 6-4 by using a leadoff walk and sacrifice fly to plate run in the sixth off junior Austin Moore (1.0,1,2,2,2), who was handed the ball in relief of Houston starter Cobb.
New Mexico looked to be in full control in the latter half of the seventh when its first four hitters reached. The Lobos would use an RBI-single to make it a 6-5 game with 0 outs and bases loaded after the Cougars used senior Jared Robinson (0.0,2,0,0,1,0).
Houston went to the pen for the third time in the inning and brought in freshman Seth Romero (XXX), who was lights out, striking out the next two hitters and inducing an inning-ending flyout to keep the Cougars ahead by one run heading into the eighth.
With two outs in the eighth, Fulmer drives a ball through the right side hole, scoring Wong from second - who walked in the inning to give Houston the 7-5 lead.
New Mexico put its first crooked number up on the scoreboard with a two-run eighth inning to tie the game at 7-7. A leadoff walk and a double led to two runs as Romero was able to strand two Lobos in scoring position, keeping the game evened up as the Cougars head to the top of the ninth.
Survance would open the ninth with a leadoff single and advance to third after a throwing error on an attempted double play occurred. Iriart would then drive his second run of the game in on a deep fly ball to centerfield, which landed for a sacrifice fly to put the Cougars up 8-7 with three outs to play.
Romero returned in the ninth and shut the Lobos down in order for his third win of the year.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
"That was a great weekend for us. Coming on the road and beating a very good team in New Mexico was a big boost for us. This weekend was definitely a big RPI weekend for us as we hope to continue to playing well down the road. It was just a good team effort all around today."
On the overall effort today
"We had guys making big plays and getting the big base knocks when we needed them and that was huge because this is a tough place to play with the high altitude. I also very proud of our pitching staff for hanging in there all weekend against a very good offensive team."
On Romero's performance
"What changed the game today was bringing in Seth Romero. He has continued to show that he can be a veteran-type player as a freshman. He came out pounding the zone and throwing strikes when we needed it. He is definitely MVP today coming out of the bullpen."
Houston will return home for its final home game of March when it welcomes Lamar to Cougar Field for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch. The Cougars will then travel to open American Athletic Conference play at UCF next weekend.
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.
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.