HOUSTON -- For the second straight game, No. 19 Houston Baseball overcame a late deficit and rallied to win in walkoff fashion as the Cougars earned a 5-4 victory over UConn in 10 innings on Thursday night at Cougar Field.
The win lifted Houston's overall record to 37-17 on the year and 14-10 in American Athletic Conference play, while UConn fell to 33-21 and 11-11 in league action.
With the win, the Cougars are now just one game away from clinching the conference regular-season title with two games left to play in the weekend series vs. the Huskies.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
1 -- The Cougars are one win from clinching the regular-season conference title.
1 -- Aaron Fletcher notched his first career win as a Cougar in relief.
2 -- Houston rallied for its second straight walkoff win this week.
3 -- Ian Rice belted his third homerun of the season.
3 -- Three of Houston's five runs came in their last at-bats.
5 -- Kyle Survance recorded his conference-leading fifth triple of the season.
5 -- Five different recorded an RBI on the night.
5 -- Andrew Lantrip notched his fifth game this season with 10 or more strikeouts.
13 -- Josh Vidales singled in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 13 games.
17 -- Kyle Survance doubled in the second inning to extend his on-base streak to 17 straight games.
39 -- Houston has hit 39 homeruns this season, the most since hitting 44 in 2010.
Down 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth, junior Ian Rice tied the game on a solo homerun to leadoff the frame, sending the game into extra innings.
UConn would use a 1-run 10th inning to go back up on Houston, 4-3 -- sending the Cougars back to bat with one more chance to stay alive. With one out in the bottom of the 10th, junior Chris Iriart worked a walk, which allowed junior Jacob Campbell to single, putting runners at the corners.
Freshman Corey Julks came up big, as he has done all week, tying the game on a double down the right field line, scoring junior Robert Grilli -- who pinch ran for Iriart -- tying the game once again at 4-4.
For the Cougars in the 10th, it was the 5-6 hole freshmen who made it happen late as freshman Connor Wong followed up with a hard infield single, that drove in the game-winner -- Zac Taylor -- who pinch ran.
Houston racked up 12 hits and five different Cougars contributed with an RBI.
Leading the way in the hit column was junior Josh Vidales (3x5), who had three hits to lead all hitters. Junior Kyle Survance (2x5, RBI) drove in a run and had two hits, while Iriart went 2-for-4 with a crucial walk in extra innings.
Driving in runs on hits were Julks (1x5, RBI), Wong (1x5, RBI), Rice (1x2, 2 R, RBI) and junior Ashford Fulmer (1x4, RBI).
Houston starter Andrew Lantrip (6.2,6,3,3,2,11) struck out 11 in 6.2 innings, but would leave with the Cougars down 3-2, receiving the no-decision after allowing three runs on six scattered hits and two walks.
Freshman Aaron Fletcher (1.0,0,0,0,2,1) would relieve junior Patrick Weigel (2.1,3,1,1,1,1) and work out of a bases-loaded threat by UConn in the 10th to earn his first career win as a Cougar after tossing 1.0 hitless frame with one strikeout and two intentional walks.
Houston jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a run in the second inning on a two-out RBI-single by Fulmer, scoring Rice -- who walked with one out in the frame.
UConn threatened in the fourth when three straight Huskies reached to load the bases with one out, but Lantrip was able to escape the jam, fanning one and inducing a popout to shortstop.
The Cougars extended their lead with a run in the latter half of the frame as junior Justin Montemayor scored on a Survance two-out triple into the left center gap for his fifth of the season.
UConn would go ahead 3-2 on a two-out, three-run double down the left field line in the top of the seventh to chase Lantrip as he handed the ball over to Weigel, who came in and stranded a runner at second with one pitch.
UConn reliever Patrick Ruotolo (2.1,5,3,3,1,4) would be tagged with the loss, falling to 2-4 on the year after allowing three runs on five hits in 2.1 innings of work.
Head Coach Whitting
"Another gritty effort. That's two in a row we've come back and won. I'm really proud of our guys. I don't think we played that great today and most of the game, but where it counted, we did. To go out and give up that run in the 10th and then comeback with a tough play at third base with no outs. We're being aggressive -- when you're being aggressive things are going to turn your way at some point. Huge at bats there by a couple of freshmen. I thought it was a gritty team effort on a day that we didn't really play that good but we played hard and that's all that matters."
"What won the game was [Aaron] Fletcher coming in with a bases loaded situation and only gave up one run. They had a chance to throw a knockout punch on us right there. For a freshman especially it was big for him to come in and do that."
On Ian Rice's ninth-inning, game-tying homerun
"We're not even playing anymore if Ian doesn't do that. That's the guy I've been waiting for to show up all year long. He is a tremendous offensive player. This time of year you never know what's going to happen. We've been telling the team over and over that your stats don't matter, nothing matters but winning the next game."
On facing UConn's Carson Cross
"I thought [Carson] Cross was as advertise. He doesn't elevate, doesn't give you a chance to really get any good swings on him. He's a crafty guy, he's an older guy that can really pitch. I'm proud of us for getting after him because I though it was going to be a long night on the mound."
On what he told the team
"You just try to minimize the damage. Number one you've just got to throw strikes and number two you've got to make plays behind him. You can't panic in that situation you've just got to keep playing."
Junior Ian Rice
On homerun at bat
"I knew he was going to throw a fast ball. Batters before that I saw he wasn't looking on his curveball. So I knew I was just sitting on a fastball."
On team's resilience
"It's like Coach Whitting says `just keep playing'. It's not over till the last pitch is thrown. I think we're never out of a game."
On Aaron Fletcher
"He did a great job coming in there. He made some great pitches and holding them to just that one run. It turned out to be the deciding factor in the game."
The series featuring Houston and UConn will continue on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and wrap on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Saturday's finale will also serve as Senior Day. The program will honor its four departing senior student-athletes in David Longville, Aaron Garza, Jared Robinson and Taylor Cobb during a pregame ceremony.
Following the final home series, Houston will head to the American Athletic Conference Championship in Clearwater, Fla. Official seeds will be released following Saturday's finales.
Single game tickets for the remaining two 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.