May 3, 2013
NEW ORLEANS, La. - University of Houston Baseball played errorless baseball, scored early and received strong pitching down the stretch as it came away with a wild 4-3 win at Tulane on Friday evening in Conference USA play.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
14 With his single to right field in the first inning, freshman Kyle Survance extended his consecutive games of reaching base safely streak to 14.
21 With his third triple of the season, Josh Vidales gave the Cougars 21 total triples on the season. That mark is six away from the team record (27) set in 1990.
The win snapped a five-game league skid, dating back to the April 20 vs. Rice, and improved Houston's overall record to 29-17 and its league mark to 8-8 - now sitting in a tie for fifth with Memphis after Friday's contests. With the loss, Tulane fell to 23-23 and 7-9 in C-USA play.
Houston plated a run in each of the first four innings and was able to hang on as Tulane threatened down the stretch. The key was chasing Tulane starter and Friday ace Tony Rizzotti in the fifth without recording an out.
The Cougars tallied nine hits, three for extra bases. Leading the way offensively was junior Frankie Ratcliff (2x4, 2 RBI) drove in two on a double and single, while junior Landon Appling (2x4, RBI) recorded a key RBI on two hits. Freshman Justin Montemayor (2x3, R) scored a run and tallied a multi-hit game.
Also contributing to the offensive success was freshman Josh Vidales, (1x2, 2 R, RBI) who tripled, drove in a run and scored a run, while fellow freshman Kyle Survance (1x4) and sophomore Michael Pyeatt (1x3, 2B) continued their strong hitting of late, each with a base knock.
Houston starter Daniel Poncedeleon (7.1,9,3,3,3,3) earned his sixth win of the season to improve his overall mark to 6-4 with his 7.1 inning, three strikeout outing. The righty allowed three runs on nine hits and three walks, but made pitches when Tulane attempted several threats in the middle innings.
Junior reliever Chase Wellbrock (1.2,1,0,0,0,1) was once again key in the late innings for the Cougars, taking over in the eighth and working around a runner at second with one out to pick up his eighth save of the season. The righty allowed just one hit - an infield single in 1.2 innings of work with one strikeout.
Houston forced Rizzotti into 30 first-inning pitches as the Cougars plated a run off an RBI-double by Ratcliff, scoring Vidales, who opened the game with a leadoff walk and moved to second on a single by Survance - who reached base safely for the 14th consecutive game.
Poncedeleon relied on his crafty defense to shut down Tulane in the bottom half of the inning as Ratcliff and Davis used their glove work to prevent three infield singles.
Houston added to its lead in the second with a manufactured run that came on a sac fly by Vidales - scoring Fulmer, who reached on a fielder's choice, took second on a balk and third on a wild pitch.
Another impressive defensive inning followed as Montemayor and Davis flashed their leather to help Poncedeleon through his second 1-2-3 frame as he finished with a strikeout looking.
Appling came up big for the Cougars in the third with his second hit of the game, this one coming with two outs as he plated Montemayor on his hit through the right side. Trying to be aggressive, Pyeatt was thrown out by Tulane right fielder Andrew Garner.
Tulane struck for a run in back-to-back innings, recording RBI-hits in the third and fourth frames to cut Houston's lead to 4-2. Houston chased Rizzotti (4.0,7,4,4,4,2) after Montemayor drew a leadoff walk in the fifth. Tulane reliever Kyle McKenzie (5.0,2,0,0,1,5) would work the next five innings.
After initially scoring on what looked to be an in-the-park homerun, plating Montemayor, Pyeatt was robbed of at least a triple as he was put back on second - ruled as a ground-rule double, placing Montemayor at third. Tulane was able to escape the inning without the two runs scoring.
Tulane responded to its defensive momentum and scored a run in the seventh on back-to-back hits following two strikeouts. Houston was retired in order in the eighth and Tulane recorded a one-out double to chase Poncedeleon after 7.1 innings.
Wellbrock would allow an infield single to put runners at first and second with one out in the eighth, but would freeze the next hitter on a called strike and induce an inning-ending flyout to preserve the Cougars' 4-3 lead into the ninth.
After being retired in order offensively, Wellbrock was back out in the ninth to close it and that he did as the junior went 1-2-3 for his eighth save.
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Houston and Tulane will meet for Game 2 at 2 p.m. Saturday at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium with the Cougars leading the series, 1-0.