Cougars Edged, 3-1, in 10-Inning Series Finale
April 1, 2012
W: Joe Rogers (3-0)
NUMBERS OF NOTE
11 Houston stranded 11 base runners in Sunday's series finale.
8.1 Houston's Austin Pruitt pitched a career-high 8.0 innings on Sunday.
HOUSTON-- Playing its first extra-inning game of the season, the University of Houston baseball team was edged 3-1 by No. 17 UCF in the 10th inning in Sunday's series finale at Cougar Field.
With the loss, Houston was swept for the first time in a C-USA series at home since Rice defeated the Cougars back on May 6-8, 2011. Houston falls to 10-16 overall and 1-5 in conference play, while UCF improves to 23-6 and 5-1.
Junior starting pitcher Austin Pruitt (8.1,6,1,1,2,6) made his best showing of the season in a career-long 8.1 innings of work, allowing just one run on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts, one shy of his career-high seven.
"I felt really good. I was comfortable on the mound. My off-speed was working really well," said Pruitt on his outing. "Me pitching wise; going eight innings and losing is tough. We played well throughout the whole game. We fought until the end but we just didn't come out on top."
The right-hander allowed a solo homerun to lead off hitter Ronnie Richardson to open the game and then managed to scatter five hits across 8.0 innings with a run crossing. He also recorded a career-high with 125 pitches thrown surpassing his previous high of 119 coming last Sunday at Southern Miss. Pruitt left in the eighth to receive the no decision.
"Pruitt was outstanding. He's given us a chance to win just about every time he has pitched," said head coach Todd Whittin on Pruitt. "He is far and away the most consistent guy in our pitching staff right now. He pitched a great game."
Houston tallied eight hits, led by three players with two hits apiece. Senior Codey Morehouse (2x4, R) scored a run and had two hits, while junior Jacob Lueneburg (2x4) and senior Jake Runte (2x4) each had two base hits. Sophomore Jonathan Davis (1x2) and freshman Cory Kay (1x2) also contributed with a hit.
The Cougars managed to strand 11 total base runners, which included two frames with bases loaded (2nd, 5th).
"We continue to leave an entire army of runners on base. It seems right now if it's not one thing it's another. If we hit we don't pitch and if we don't pitch we don't hit, and our defense is usually consistently bad. Until we can start putting one or two of the three together this is going to happen," said Whitting.
After falling down 1-0 on Richardson's solo shot in the top of the first, Houston's defense and strong pitching by Pruitt kept the dangerous UCF lineup off the bases for the next three frames. Houston was able to plate its only run in the fourth when Morehouse singled up the middle with one out. A double down the left field line by Lueneburg put runners at second and third for Jacobs, who laid down a perfect RBI-sacrifice bunt, scoring Morehosue.
UCF threatened in the sixth when two players notched back-to-back singles with one out. Sophomore Landon Appling's diving grab in center saved a run and allowed Pruitt to force a final groundout to keep the game tied. Houston also escaped a ninth-inning jam when UCF lead off reached on a single and stole second. With a walk and runners at second and third, backup catcher Kay gunned down the runner trying to steal third for the second out of the inning. Junior reliever Aaron Stewart worked 0.2 innings of relief and put Houston in a position to win in the bottom of the frame after striking out the final batter he faced in the ninth.
UCF's DJ Hicks took a 3-1 fastball into right center to plate the go-ahead run in the 10th as the Knights produced four straight singles.
Sophomore Chase Wellbrock (0.1,2,2,2,0,0) suffered the loss, tossing 0.1 innings of work in relief of Stewart. The righty allowed two runs on two hits to fall to 1-1 on the year. Houston has now dropped six of its last seven games.
"It's tough. We played our hardest but the cards aren't falling our way right now. We just have to keep going out and playing as hard as we can," said senior Codey Morehouse on tough outing.