TAMPA, Fla. -- No. 22 Houston Baseball moves into a tie for first place in the American Athletic Conference standings after claiming a 6-2 road win on Sunday to clinch the weekend series at USF.
With the win, the Cougars own a season record of 29-15 and a league mark at 9-6, while USF fell to 28-16-1 and 9-6 in conference action. The series win was the third straight for the Cougars and seventh this season.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
1 -- With the series win at USF, the Cougars now claimed a share of the American league.
1 -- Aaron Fletcher earned his first career save, tossing 3.0 shutout innings in relief.
3 -- Houston has now won three straight conference series and first one on the road.
4 -- Kyle Survance triples for the fourth time this season -- now ties Connor Wong for conference lead.
5 -- Freshman Seth Romero won his fifth game of the year, going 6.0 strong innings.
7 -- Houston earned its seventh series win of the year.
9 -- Seth Romero tied his career-high with nine strikeouts in the win on Sunday.
13 -- Ian Rice doubled down the left field line to extend his on-base streak to 13 straight games.
Romero (6.0,7,2,2,0,9) tied his career-high with nine strikeouts and allowed just two runs in 6.0 innings of work for his fifth win of the year, improving to 5-3 on the year. He also earned a save this weekend -- closing out a 9-8 win on Saturday at USF.
Romero was backed by fellow classmate in Fletcher (3.0,2,0,0,0,1), who earned his first career save with 3.0 shutout innings out of the pen, striking out one and allowing just two scattered hits.
The Houston offense produced three different innings, leading to the victory.
The Cougars out hit USF, 11-9 on the day as junior Kyle Survance led the offense with his second 3+ hit game, going 3-for5 with three RBI and two runs scored.
Junior Ashford Fulmer (1x1, R, RBI, 2 BB) walked twice, singled and drove in a run and executed a sacrifice bunt to remain perfect at the plate.
USF strikes first with the game's first run in the bottom of the fourth after a leadoff single, double and RBI-fielder's choice. Romero worked around another hit to strand two on the base paths, keeping the score 1-0 Bulls as they moved to the fifth.
With one out in the fifth, Rice doubles down the left field line to extend his on-base streak to 13 straight games. He is followed up by Fulmer, who reaches for the second time by a walk, giving way to Survance -- who triples down the right field line -- for his fourth triple of the year, plating both Rice and Vidales to make it a 2-1 game with Houston on top. Vidales adds to the lead with an RBI-sacrifice fly, scoring Survance to put Houston ahead, 3-1.
USF would trim Houston's lead by a run at 3-2 with an RBI-single in the sixth, but the Cougars quickly responded in the top half of the seventh when Rice opened the frame with his second double of the game, this time a shot into the left center gap.
Fulmer did his job and moved Rice to third on a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt and Survance dropped a bloop single down the left field line to plate Rice to put Houston ahead,4-2. Vidales then drove a pitch off the right center wall, scoring Survance all the way from first base to give the Cougars a three-run lead at 5-2.
Romero exits after throwing 6.0 complete innings and hands the ball over to junior Patrick Weigel (0.0,0,0,0,1,0), who threw five straight balls and walked the first hitter he faced. With that, Houston chose to make a pitching change and bring in freshman Aaron Fletcher, who erased a leadoff walk with a double play ball and strikeout to keep the score at 5-2 heading into the eighth inning.
Montemayor draws a one-out hit-by-pitch in the eighth and comes around to score following a two-out RBI-single up the middle by Fulmer -- extending the Cougars' lead by four at 6-2.
USF reaches on a leadoff single, which marked the fourth straight inning the Bulls reached by their leadoff hitter, but Fletcher induced an infield flyout and a double play to keep USF off the board as the game moved to the ninth.
Fletcher returned and would allow a hit in the ninth, but nothing else, closing out the four-run game for his first save of his collegiate career.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
On the effort by Seth Romero and Aaron Fletcher on the mound
"Really proud of the way [Seth] Romero pitched today. Gutsy performance after coming in last night and getting the save. He came out today and threw strikes with good velocity, which kept hitters off balanced. [Aaron] Fletcher came in and did his thing in the last three innings. It was huge having two freshmen step up and perform the way they did today."
On the offensive effort in Sunday's win
"Proud of our overall offensive effort today. You have different players stepping up each game to help us win. Hopefully their effort this weekend will be a springboard as we have a tough stretch to close out conference play the next few weeks."
Houston will return to Cougar Field for its next game when it welcomes Sam Houston State for a 6:30 pm contest on Tuesday.
Single game tickets for the remaining eight home games at Cougar Field can be purchased by clicking here: 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 offers 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.
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.