HOUSTON -- Houston Baseball seniors Aaron Garza and Jared Robinson led the No. 19 Cougars to a 1-0 shutout win over UConn on Saturday at Cougar Field to cap a series sweep and wrap up regular-season play.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 39-17 overall and finished American Athletic Conference as the outright Champions with a record of 16-8, winning their last six league series to stand alone at the top of the conference.
The shutout was the eighth of the year for the Houston pitching staff and the win capped the fifth weekend sweep for the Cougars this season.
Houston finished 25-8 at Cougar Field -- notching its second consecutive 25+ win season at home -- the first time ever since the field was redone in 1995.
Houston will play as the No. 1 seed in the American Athletic Conference Championship in Clearwater, Fla. next week with its first game slated for 6 p.m. CT Tuesday vs. No. 8-seed Cincinnati. The game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network as well as being available to listen live at UHCougars.com/baseradio.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
1 -- Houston will play as the league's No. 1 seed in next week's Championship in Clearwater, Fla.
1 -- Aaron Garza earned his first win of the year and Jared Robinson -- his first career save.
2 -- Houston's defense has been steady, committing just two errors in the last 10 games.
5 -- Houston honored its five seniors: Aaron Garza, Jared Robinson, Taylor Cobb, David Longville and Mason Lucas during pregame ceremonies.
6 -- Houston won its sixth straight weekend series of the year with the 3-1 victory on Friday.
7 -- The Cougars won seven of their eight home weekend series of the year, tying the only one that wasn't a win (vs. Columbia).
8 -- Houston claimed its eighth regular-season conference title in program history -- first since 2002.
10 -- Ashford Fulmer walked in the fifth to extend on-base streak to 10 straight games.
12 -- Jacob Campbell singled in the fourth to extend his on-base streak to 12 games.
12 -- Jared Robinson retired the final 12 hitters he faced.
16 -- Houston has won 16 of the last 19 games played this season.
16 -- Houston finished 16-8 in conference play -- notching the most conference wins since 18 in 2006.
Garza and Robinson combined to throw the Cougars' eighth shutout of the season, as the seniors allowed just four hits to UConn's offense.
Garza (5.0,2,0,0,2,1) earned his first win of the season, tossing 5.0 shutout frames, allowing just two hits and two walks with one strikeout. The Galveston, Texas native notched his 17th career victory in his 59th overall appearance.
Robinson (4.0,2,0,0,0,1) notched his first career save as a Cougar after tossing 4.0 shutout innings, allowing just two hits with one strikeout -- closing out a 1-0 win for Houston.
Offensively, Houston had seven hits -- led by freshman Zac Taylor (2x4, R), junior Josh Vidales (2x3) and junior Ian Rice (2x3) with two hits each. Junior Jacob Campbell (1x4, RBI) drove in the game's lone run on an RBI-single.
Houston broke open the 0-0 game in the fourth with one run thanks to a Campbell RBI-single down the right field line, scoring Taylor -- who opened the frame on his second hit of the game and moved to third on a Vidales single.
UConn threatened in the first inning when the first two hitters of the game reached via back-to-back walks issued by Houston starter Taylor Cobb (0.0,0,0,0,2,0), but senior Aaron Garza came in and induced a flyout to right field and was helped by a great defensive play as Taylor gunned the runner trying to advance from second to third for the second out of the inning before a groundout kept UConn off the board early.
The Huskies would go on to strand bases loaded in the third after three straight reached on two outs.
Garza finished tossing 5.0 shutout innings in relief for the Cougars before handing the ball over to fellow senior Jared Robinson in the sixth. Robinson worked around back-to-back hits to open the frame, stranding a pair.
Robinson finished the game retiring the final 12 hitters he faced.
UConn starter Jordan Tabakman (8.0,7,1,1,1,2) went the distance, allowing just one run on seven hits in 8.0 innings, but suffered the loss.
Head Coach Whitting
On today's regular-season finale win and weekend sweep
"A really gritty win today. I am proud of Aaron Garza and Jared Robinson. It was Senior Day today out here, and those guys have had their ups and downs this season, but they were absolutely nails. Offensively we didn't come up with a lot, and UConn's guy threw well, but the story of today is Garza and Robinson; those guys went out there and got it done."
On moving forward into next week's American Conference Championship
"We are excited to go to Clearwater, Fla. and play in the tournament. It is an unbelievable venue for this event. There is a trophy on the line down there and I expect our team to compete and play for it. What lies ahead for them at the tournament they have to put that aside for now and try to increase our chances of climbing up and hopefully hosting a regional here at Cougar Field."
Senior Aaron Garza
On what it felt like out there to earn a win on Senior Day
"Staying in the moment was all I was thinking. This could be my last time playing on this field and it was the only thing that was going through my mind. I wanted to leave everything out there on the field. It was good to be able to come out here with a win on what could potentially be my last game, it was real exciting."
On what was working for him
"I was just trying to throw strikes low in the zone. I didn't want to leave anything up with guys on base, or anytime at all, but just taking it one pitch at a time and being real careful with the ball."
On moving into next week's Conference Championship
"It will hopefully give us a little bit of momentum going into the conference tournament and getting a lot of wins there. It hopefully gives us the NCAA a reason for us to host a regional in a couple of weeks."
Senior Jared Robinson
On what was working during his 4.0 shutout innings for the save
"You go out and try to do the same thing and throw the best pitch you can, it doesn't matter if you have a 10-run lead, a one-run lead, or if you are down. My changeup was pretty good today and I was able to locate it well and get some good movement on it. It all came together today, I had good defense behind me."
Houston will head to the American Athletic Conference Championship in Clearwater, Fla. Official seeds will be released following Saturday's finales, but Houston will play as the No. 1 seed on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network against No. 8-seed Cincinnati.
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