May 5, 2013
NEW ORLEANS, La. - A come-from-behind, two-run ninth inning and clutch pitching down the stretch lifted Houston Baseball to a 3-2 victory on Sunday and a series win at Tulane this weekend as it notched win No. 30 this season.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
16 With his third inning hit-by-pitch, freshman Kyle Survance extended his consecutive games of reaching base safely streak to 16.
30 Houston notched WIN No. 30 on Sunday to mark the first 30-win season since 2008.
The series win marked the sixth weekend series victory of the season and third in C-USA as the Cougars improved to 30-18 overall and 9-9 in league play to accompany its first 30-win season since 2008. Tulane fell to 24-24 and 8-10 with the loss.
It was also the fourth last at-bat win of the season for this young squad, while improving to 21-1 when scoring first.
After grabbing a 1-0 lead, Tulane would tie it up in the fourth and take a 2-1 lead into the ninth until Houston broke loose for two runs on two hits and perfectly executed small ball for the come-from-behind effort.
Houston was held to just four hits, but all four proved critical in the one-run win. Leading the way was junior Caleb Barker (2x4, 2 RBI) with his two doubles and two RBI, including the game-tying run driven in. Freshman Justin Montemayor (1x3, R) and junior Jonathan Davis (1x4, R) each singled to lead off innings in which the Cougars scored runs.
Sophomore Price Jacobs, off the bench, laid down the game-winning RBI-squeeze bunt, scoring freshman Ashford Fulmer, who pinch ran for sophomore Michael Pyeatt, who drew two walks in the game.
Sophomore starter Aaron Garza (6.1,5,2,2,1,6) was solid in his 11th start of the season, but received the no-decision after exciting with the Cougars down 2-1. The righty struck out six in 6.1 innings, allowing just two runs on five hits and one walk - keeping Tulane hitters at bay for much of the day.
Senior reliever Matt Hernandez (2.0,3,0,0,0,0) took over for Garza in the seventh and worked his way out of one of the toughest jams of the year as bases were loaded with less than two outs. The lefty recorded the second out of the inning on a nice 1-2 putout at home and got the final hitter to lineout to Davis at third.
Hernandez was back out and worked a quick eighth inning and returned in the ninth to record an out with a runner at second. The southpaw pitched 2.0 innings in relief to earn the win and improved to 4-1 on the year, as he was the pitcher of record when the Cougars took the lead in the ninth.
Junior Chase Wellbrock (0.2,0,0,0,0,0) notched his third save this week and ninth of the year as he retired the final two Tulane hitters in the ninth to preserve the win for the Cougars in his hitless 0.2 innings.
Breaking open the game was Houston as it plated the game's first run in the second after Montemayor led off the inning with a single into centerfield, moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Pyeatt and scored on a Barker RBI-double into right center.
Garza would work around base runners in the first three innings, but Tulane scratched across a run in the fourth to tie it up at 1-1 following a back-to-back one-out hits. Pyeatt's defense in left field saved a run as the made a frontward diving catch to end the inning and keep Tulane from taking the lead.
A pitchers' duel was evident as both pitchers combined to retire at least eight opposing hitters in the middle innings. Tulane was able to take its first lead of the game on a two-hit inning in the seventh.
Freshman Josh Vidales drew his 42nd walk of the season with one out in the eighth, stole second and moved to third on a 3-1 groundout by Survance. With Vidales at third as the tying run and two outs with Ratcliff up, Tulane third baseman Garrett Cannizaro made a diving play to rob Ratcliff of a game-tying RBI-single to end the inning.
Houston defense and pitching left nine Tulane hitters on base, while the Cougars played errorless baseball once again.
Tulane starter David Napoli (8.0,3,2,2,2,3) allowed two runs on three hits in 8.0 innings of work with two walks and three strikeouts, but would also receive a no-decision. Reliever Brady Wilson (0.1,0,1,1,1,1,0) would be tagged with the loss, falling to 1-3.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
On the effort by the Cougars for the series win
"This was a huge series win for us - going on the road, winning two games against a quality opponent. C-USA is a jumbled mess right now. With six league games left, we are by far, not out of it. I'm really proud of the team. They fought hard all weekend. Great team victory on Friday as it came down to the last play of the game as did today's win.
We battled back on Saturday and even though we lost, we were a swing away from making that one interesting. We had really clutch pitching at times and clutch hitting as Price Jacobs squeezes in the winning run right after Caleb Barker drives in the tying run. I'm really proud of the effort and hopefully it springs us forward going into next week."
Junior Caleb Barker
On his approach at the plate, driving in two RBI on two doubles
"My approach at the plate today was just to work in the middle of the field, stay on the ball and hit the ball hard and driving in runners when they were in scoring position. It was pretty tough for us today offensively. Tulane's starter did a good job all day keeping us off balance, but when we had runners on, we were able to cash them in.
On what a series win does for the club moving forward
"A big series win like this, especially on the road, is huge as we head home and move forward into our last two weekend series."
Sophomore Price Jacobs
On coming off the bench and laying down squeeze bunt to take the lead
"I knew we had a runner on third and I needed to get the job done anyway I could. I was just able to stick my bat nose out there and Ashford was able to beat out the throw home."
Senior Matt Hernandez
On relief effort and working out of the inherited 7th inning jam
"I knew my job as the reliever with runners at first and second was to come in and try and minimize the damage and make sure they don't score anymore runs. I came in and made the right pitches and I'm glad everything worked out."
On what this series win does for the program moving forward
"This was a huge series win for us. We are now in position to make a push with the final two weekends at home. This was a tough environment all weekend here at Tulane. Wins like this will prepare us for the postseason as we will play a lot of close ones."
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Houston will make a midweek road trip to McNeese State on Tuesday. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. in Lake Charles, La.