CLEARWATER, FLA. -- No. 14 Houston Baseball won its 40th game of the year when it went on to defeat Cincinnati, 8-4 on Tuesday evening to open American Athletic Conference Championship play at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 40-17 on the year and moved to 1-0 in the league's tournament, while Cincinnati fell to 15-40 and 0-1. Houston has now notched back-to-back 40-wins seasons, the first time since the 1999 and 2000 teams accomplished that feat.
The double-elimination bracket has No. 1-seed Houston meeting No. 4-seed USF on Thursday at 2 p.m. CT on the American Digital Network as well as available to listen live at UHCougars.com/baseradio.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
2 -- Houston has notched back-to-back 40-win seasons, the first time since 1999 and 2000.
2 -- Freshman Aaron Fletcher earned his second win of his career out of the bullpen.
2 -- Kyle Survance notched his second homerun of the season.
3 -- Corey Julks belted his third homerun of his freshman campaign.
3 -- Houston's defense has been steady, committing just three errors in the last 11 games.
4 -- Four different Cougars had two RBI in the team's win.
7 -- Freshman Seth Romero notched his team-leading seventh save of his debut season.
11 -- Ashford Fulmer tripled in the sixth to extend on-base streak to 11 straight games.
13 -- Jacob Campbell doubled in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 13 games.
17 -- Houston has won 17 of the last 20 games played this season.
19 -- Kyle Survance led off the bottom of the third with a homerun to extend his on-base streak to 19 straight games.
41 -- Houston has hit 41 homeruns, the most since 44 in 2010.
Cougar starter David Longville (4.0,6,3,3,1,1) left when Cincinnati tied the game at 3-3 in the fifth after a solo homerun evened the score. He would go on to receive the no-decision, after allowing three runs on six hits and one walk in 4.0 innings with one strikeout.
Fletcher improved to 2-0 as he worked around a Cincinnati threat in the fifth, tossing 2.0 innings, allowing no earned runs on one hit, one walk with a career-high four strikeouts.
He handed the ball over to American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year Romero, who fanned six in 3.0 hitless innings with one walk to earn his team-leading seventh save of the year.
The Houston offense tallied eight hits in the win, led by junior Kyle Survance, who had a three-hit game with two runs scored and two RBI, which included his second homerun of the season.
Joining Survance with a two-RBI game was junior Ashford Fulmer (1x4, R, 2 RBI) -- who put the Cougars back ahead in the sixth on a two-out, two-run triple into right center.
Freshman Corey Julks (1x3, R, 2 RBI) belted his third homerun of the year, driving in two to help the Cougars extend their lead late, while junior Jacob Campbell (1x4, R, 2 RBI) put Houston ahead in the first with his two-run double.
Houston jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Campbell laced a two-run double down the left field line, scoring Survance, who reached on an error and Iriart, who was intentionally walked.
Cincinnati would trim the Cougars' lead by a run in the top of the second with an RBI-groundout following a single and double. The Bearcats tied the game in the third on an RBI-single after a one-out infield single, but Survance would lead off the latter half of the frame, belting the first pitch he saw over the right field wall to make it a 3-3 game through three innings.
Tied up, Cincinnati broke open the game with a two-run fifth after a leadoff homerun, single and error.
Down 4-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Houston was on the ropes, but Wong reached for the second time, drawing a 1-out walk. Rice followed up with another walk and with two outs, Fulmer drove a pitch off the wall in right center, for a standup triple, plating two as the Cougars ahead, 5-4. Survance plated Fulmer on an infield single for the Cougars' third run of the game.
Houston went on to extend its lead in the seventh with two more runs after Campbell reached on a two-out hit-by-pitch before Julks made it an 8-4 game on a two-run homerun over the left field wall.
Cincinnati reliever Tanner Schimmoeller (2.2,0,2,2,3,3) suffered the loss, after allowing two runs on three walks to fall to 1-3 on the year.
Head Coach Todd Whitting
"I thought our pitching staff was lights out tonight. I did think Cincinnati came out to play. We were a little flat early, but we found a way to regroup and bounce back late and get some big hits. We will pitch and play good defense. That's how we play and that's how we have played all year. We try and win every game one at a time. We try not to look too far ahead."
Houston will meet No. 4-seed USF on Thursday, May 21 at 2 p.m. CT. The game will be available to watch on the American Digital Network.
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