HOUSTON – The No. 24 Houston Cougar Baseball team came from behind to even the weekend series against the UCF Knights with a 4-3 win on Saturday at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park, in Houston, Texas.
Houston wraps up the 3-game series with UCF with the rubber match on Sunday, April 10 at 1 p.m. Sunday’s contest will serve as the first of two Bark In The Park days for the Cougars. Fans are encouraged to bring their dogs, and the first 250 dogs in attendance will receive a Go Coogs Bandana. Following the conclusion of the series on Sunday, the Cougars head to Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas for a showdown with the Texas Longhorns.
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Houston starter Seth Romero (7.0,6,3,1,1,9) struck out nine UCF batters while allowing just one walk and one earned run before handing the ball over to junior reliever Nick Hernandez for the second consecutive night. Hernandez (2.0,1,0,0,1,4) walked a batter, but struck out four UCF hitters en route to picking up his first win of the season.
After falling behind 1-0 early in the contest, the Cougars wasted no time in answering in the second inning. After Connor Hollis led off the inning with a single, Gino Marucci sacrificed the runner over. Two batters later, a passed ball got away from UCF catcher Logan Heiser, rolling all the way down the first base line and allowing a hustling Hollis to score from second base.
UCF would reclaim the lead in the seventh inning when first baseman Sam Tolleson sent a 2-out single to left center to scored Heiser. However, Romero was able to limit the damage and ended the inning with his ninth and final strikeout of the night.
The Cougars would again respond with runs, this time taking the lead in the bottom of the seventh. After Michael Pyeatt reached on an infield single, and Corey Julks drew a 3-2 walk, the duo pulled a double steal to wind up at second and third with one out. Senior third baseman Justin Montemayor lined a 1-1 single through the right side to drive in the runs and give the Cougars the advantage.
The Knights however, would strike again in the top of the eighth, when the first two runners reached on a single and a fielding error by Romero. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners over, UCF left fielder Matt Diorio sent an RBI groundout to second base to tie the game.
But in the end, the Cougars had one more answer in them after a pinch hit single by Jacob Campbell and a sacrifice bunt by Robert Grilli gave Houston a 1-out baserunner in scoring position. Sophomore Zac Taylor stepped up and drilled a 2-out double just over the bag at third base to give the Cougars the lead for good.
In the ninth, Hernandez worked around a leadoff double and a 1-out walk to eventually strike out the side, and pick up his first win in a Cougar uniform.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
On motivation after tonight's win
"The game has been really hard on us lately. My guys have played absolutely as hard as they can play the entire season. The game has been cruel. We have hit line drives right at people, and we don't get hops. It has just been tough, but the will to win can overcome a lot of that stuff. We have to keep scratching and clawing. We played real well tonight."
On Seth Romero's outing
"He is right where he needs to be, and he has been doing it all season. He's been lights out and has given us a chance to win every Saturday."
On Justin Montemayor's improved numbers
"He has done a great job of forgetting about last year. He played tremendous defensive for us last year and was probably our MVP just because of the way he played defense. This year he knows that he is an older guy, he has played for four years, and he knows how to drive runs in and hit in the middle of the lineup and do some damage."
On Zac Taylor's game-winning double
"That was huge. You talk to your team all the time about them being ready late. Everybody on the roster has to be ready to do their part. We had a lot of that going on tonight. I'm proud of Zac.”
On Nick Hernandez coming on in relief
"He has been good in the back end for us. I was concerned about who was going to be in the back end and he has come in and done a really good job. He and (Bubba) Maxwell have been really good on that back side. It's a pretty gutsy deal to give up a leadoff double and get out of that inning with three strikeouts in a row, that's hard to do."
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.
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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
BUY SEASON/ SINGLE-GAME / GROUP TICKETS
Houston Baseball has 20 remaining home games at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park this 2016 season and fans can purchase season tickets for as low as $99 online by visiting UHCougars.com/tickets and following the appropriate links or by clicking here.
To purchase tickets in person, fans can 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.
Houston Baseball will offer variable pricing on its single-game tickets and group rates.
As noted in the table above, variable pricing occurs. For weekday (Tuesday/Wednesday) games, prices range from $5-$7 depending on the choice of seating.
Weekend ((Thursday) Friday-Sunday) online pricing will range from $6-$8 per game.
Group rates are also available (as noted in the table). Weekday (Tuesday/Wednesday) and Weekend ((Thursday) Friday-Sunday) pricing occurs. Groups of 10-24 are set at $4-$5 per person, while groups of 25+ are $3-$4 per person.
All UH main campus students are admitted FREE to regular-season baseball home games with a valid student ID.
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.