Houston Baseball Notches Win No. 20 Behind 13-Strikeout Effort by Pruitt
March 23, 2013
HOUSTON -- University of Houston Baseball earned its 20th win after an exciting 4-3 victory over East Carolina behind a career-high 13 strikeout effort by senior Austin Pruitt on Saturday evening at Cougar Field to improve to 20-4 this season and win its ninth straight game.
FINAL | Cougar Field
NUMBERS OF NOTE
3 Chase Wellbrock collected his third save of the season in his 0.2 innings of work. 9With his 2x3 night at the plate, freshman third baseman Kyle Kirk has now hit safely in nine consecutive games. The Cougars are also on a nine game winning streak..
13Senior Austin Pruitt had a career-high 13 strikeouts on the mound for Houston in the win over ECU.
14The Cougars improved to 14-2 at Cougar Field this season.
18With his walk in the fifth inning, freshman second baseman Josh Vidales has now reached base safely in 18 consecutive games.
20 The Houston Cougars are now 20-4 on the season and off to their best start since 1989 when Houston began the season 22-2.
The Cougars are now 14-2 at home and 2-0 in Conference USA play and have failed to lose a series this season, while the Pirates fell to 11-12 and 0-2.
East Carolina's ninth-inning rally fell one-run short after the Cougar bullpen stepped up once again to close out the game with Houston on top.
Pruitt's (8.0,8,3,3,1,13) 13 strikeouts surpassed his previous high of 10, which came in a win at Texas State back on February 23. The Woodlands, Texas native improved to 5-1 after allowing just three runs on eight hits in 8.0 innings with one walk.
Junior relievers Tyler Ford (0.1,0,0,0,0,0) and Chase Wellbrock (0.2,0,0,0,0,1) both entered the game in the ninth frame and shut the Pirates down after inheriting a bases loaded, no out situation with the Cougars up by just three runs.
Wellbrock's fly out and game-ending strikeout earned him the save, his third of the year.
Houston was out hit by one, 8-7, but took advantage of scoring opportunities throughout the game to take an early 2-0 lead and later a 4-1 advantage after five frames.
The Cougars' seven hits were led by freshman Kyle Kirk's (2x3, R, RBI) two base knocks as the Houston native extended his current hit streak to nine games. Joining him in driving in crucial runs were freshman Justin Montemayor (1x3, RBI, 3B) and sophomore Michael Pyeatt (0x3, RBI, BB). Contributing in the hit column was junior Caleb Barker (1x3), freshmen Jacob Campbell (1x3, BB), Ashford Fulmer (1x3, BB) and junior Landon Appling (1x2, 2 R, BB).
Freshman Josh Vidales' fifth-inning walk allowed him to extend his on-base streak to 18 straight games, while scoring a run for Houston in the win.
Pruitt fanned the side in the top of the second and stranded two, at first and third as both reached base with one out. Houston went on to answer an inning later as it went up 2-0 on three hits, led by an RBI-single by Kirk and an RBI-triple by Montemayor - scoring Appling, who singled to open the frame.
East Carolina threatened in the top of the fourth with two hits, but both were erased after an executed 6-4-3 double play and a 1-3 pickoff by Pruitt to end the inning.
After allowing a leadoff homerun to ECU's Chase McDonald in the fifth, Pruitt fanned the next three hitters for his second inning of striking out the side to keep the Cougars' lead at 2-1 through four complete innings.
Houston plated two more runs in the fifth after Appling and Vidales reached on consecutive walks. Kirk's sacrifice bunt, which resulted in a fielder's choice, loaded the bases. The Cougars then took advantage of a passed ball and a fielder's choice groundout by Pyeatt.
Up 4-1, Pruitt fanned two more Pirates to notch a career-high in strikeouts - totally 12 though seven complete. He went on to fan one more in the eighth and returned in the ninth.
However, East Carolina opened the ninth, down three, with three consecutive singles to load the bases. With that, Houston went to its bullpen, which continues to remain dominant in late-inning situations - helping Pruitt escape the jam and earn the win.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
Thoughts on the game
"Anytime you have a starting pitcher go out, and strikeout 13, and only walk one, you're going to have a great chance to win the game. I'm really proud of Austin Pruitt and his effort tonight. This was a night where we didn't have great at bats, but we grinded them out. We left a few guys on base, but I'm really proud of the ball club. East Carolina is a great program they have a lot of pride, they play extremely hard, and they are very talented. This was a big win for us, being able to win the series, and I look forward to tomorrow."
SENIOR PITCHER Austin Pruitt
Thoughts on the game
"It was really fun out there. Last year I pitched pretty well against these guys, and this year I feel like I did better. I felt good tonight and my stuff was working for me. I was able to get my curveball, and my two-seam to work early. I wish I had gotten through the ninth."
On getting a win early against a conference team
"Getting a Conference win is huge for us. Everything we've done up to this point doesn't matter. This is the show."
JUNIOR PITCHER Chase Wellbrock
On closing the ninth
"We had a great crowd tonight. They had their homerun hitter up at the plate in Chase McDonald. He is a guy that can really swing the bat. Being able to make pitches, and get him out was huge. When Tyler Ford came in to get the groundout it was the biggest out of the game."
On settling in to the ninth inning role
"Honestly, I'll play wherever coach decides to put me. I have to be ready at any moment in the game. Whenever they call my name I have to give it everything I have when I go out there."
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Houston and East Carolina will conclude the three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at Cougar Field.