Baseball Wins Extra-Inning Thriller, 5-4, over ECU; Sweeps Series
March 24, 2013
HOUSTON -- University of Houston Baseball never let down in a thrilling, come-from-behind 5-4, 10-inning win over East Carolina to sweep the Conference USA opening weekend series at Cougar Field.
FINAL | Cougar Field
Win: Matt Hernandez (3-1)
NUMBERS OF NOTE
2 Houston improved to 2-0 on the year in extra inning games. The first win came on Feb. 24 at Texas State. 10With his 3x4 night at the plate, freshman third baseman Kyle Kirk has now hit safely in 10 consecutive games. The Cougars are also on a 10-game winning streak.
14With the 10 hit performance for Houston tonight, the Cougars have now collected 10 or more hits in 14 games this season.
15The Cougars improved to 15-2 at Cougar Field this season.
19With his RBI single in the eighth inning, freshman second baseman Josh Vidales has now reached base safely in 19 consecutive games.
21 The Houston Cougars are now 21-4 on the season and off to their best start since 1989 when Houston began the season 23-2.
The Cougars continued their hot start, winning their 10th straight to improve to an impressive 21-4 record and a 15-2 mark at home, while wrapping up the first weekend of C-USA play with a 3-0 record. The loss dropped East Carolina to 11-13 and 0-3.
Houston saw itself down 3-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth after running into some early trouble trying to advance runners. The Cougars never backed down, while locking in to plate two in the eighth on two hits and one Pirate error, one in the ninth to tie the game on one hit and two in the 10th on three hits to secure the win.
Six of Houston's 10 hits came in the final three frames as did all five runs. The Cougars were led by freshman Kyle Kirk (3x4, BB) with three hits as the Houston native extended his hit streak to 10 straight games. Also notching three base hits was freshman Justin Montemayor (3x4, R, BB), while also scoring the run - the game winner.
Junior Landon Appling's (1x2, R, RBI, 2 BB) ninth-inning RBI, game-tying single was the biggest hit for the El Campo, Texas native, this season as it came on a 3-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extras.
Freshmen Kyle Survance's (1x2, R, RBI, BB) RBI-single in the 10th tied the game for the second time, while Josh Vidales (1x5, RBI) and Jacob Campbell (0x3, SF, RBI) each drove in an RBI for Houston. Campbell's RBI proved to be the game-winner following a sacrifice fly to left field, plating Montemayor in the 10th.
Vidales' single in the eighth inning kept his on-base streak alive - as the LaPorte, Texas native, notched his 19th straight game to reach base safely.
Junior Frankie Ratcliff (1x2, 2 BB) also added a hit in the win.
Senior Matt Hernandez (1.0,0,0,0,2,0) earned his third win of the season to improve to 3-1 after tossing 1.0 inning out of the pen.
Freshman starter Jake Lemoine (6.2,7,3,2,2,4) was strong in his third start of his young career after allowing two early runs. The righty settled in to toss 6.2 innings with four strikeouts, while scattering two walks and seven hits for the no-decision.
Tossing effective innings out of the pen was sophomore Ryan Vruggink (0.1,0,0,0,1,0) and juniors Tyler Ford (1.2,1,0,0,1,1) and Chase Wellbrock (0.1,2,1,1,0,1,0).
East Carolina jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first following four hits. Houston was unable to get anything going for the majority of the game, stranding seven and hitting into five double plays.
The Pirates added a third run in the top of the fifth after a hit and a Cougar error. That lead lasted until the bottom of the eighth when Houston rallied for two runs. Those two were plated on two hits and a Pirate error. Freshman Ashford Fulmer and Appling reached consecutively on a hit-by-pitch and walk and each advanced a base on a wild pitch. Vidales came through with an RBI-single to put the Cougars on the board. A failed pickoff attempt on Vidales scored Appling at third and moved the freshman to third with no outs.
East Carolina went to its closer in Drew Reynolds, who induced the next three outs to hold a 3-2 lead for the Pirates heading into the top of the ninth. Ford battled through to strikeout out the first hitter in the ninth, while giving up a one-out single and later a pop out to first base. He turned the ball over to fellow junior Wellbrock, who fanned the final Pirate hitter in the ninth.
A huge 3-2 walk by Survance opened the bottom of the ninth for Houston. A failed sacrifice bunt kept Survance at first, but a 3-2 walk by Ratcliff would place runners at first and second with one out in the ninth - down 3-2. A strikeout followed, but Appling's two-out, 3-2 single to right center would score the speedy Survance from second to tie the game and force extra innings for the Cougars.
East Carolina quickly bounced back with a leadoff homerun on the first pitch he saw off the bat of Dylan Brown to regain the lead at 4-3. After back-to-back hits and no outs, Hernandez took over for Wellbrock - inducing a sac bunt, a walk - but the biggest double play of the game - a 4-6-3 twin-killing to end East Carolina's threat and keep it a one-run game with three outs to work with.
Houston's resilience continued as the Cougar leadoff guy in the 10th, Kirk, opened the frame with his third hit of the contest. After another failed sacrifice bunt, Montemayor moved the runners up a base with one out. At first and second, Survance's single would score pinch runner sophomore Chris Waylock from second to tie the game at 4-4 with just one out. Campbell then got a pitch he could drive to the outfield, on a 0-2 count, as his sacrifice fly to left field went on to plate Montemayor from third for the win.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
Thoughts on the game
"I'm proud of the team for how they played late in the game. I told them that I didn't think they could have played worse than the way we played at certain points in this game. For the first seven innings that was the worst ballgame we've played all year, but you look up and we're still in the game. That's what we do, we keep fighting. I never doubted the effort of the ball club today. We just weren't having things go our way. We absolutely could not get a bunt down, but I'm not going to stop calling the bunts. Just because we didn't get them down today doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying to win games with squeeze bunts. I'm really proud of how they team continued to fight. To give up a leadoff home run in the 10th was a real kick in the tail for us, but so what we just kept playing."
JUNIOR OUTFIELDER Landon Appling
On the base hit to send the game to extra innings
"I wasn't trying to do too much at the plate. I was able to get a couple of walks early in the game, and I felt like I was seeing the ball really well today. I was able to get in a full count, and I put a good swing on it. Being able to beat a good team like ECU is huge for us. Opening up conference play with a sweep is great."
FRESHMAN OUTFIELDER Kyle Survance
On coming off the bench & tying the game in the 10th
"I came in looking for a good pitch to hit. I was able to put the ball in play, and luckily it got through the infield. Getting this win is huge for us. We're about to hit the road for a couple of weeks, so for us to come from behind and get the win was big for us."
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Houston will hit the road for its first of four straight when it travels to Beaumont to take on Lamar at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.