Cougars Suffer Heartbreaker in C-USA Championship Opener
May 23, 2012
W: Taylor Wall (6-3)
NUMBERS OF NOTE
5 Five different Cougars recorded an RBI in Wednesday's loss to Rice.
4 The Cougars recorded a team season-high four sacrifice bunts.
PEARL, Miss.—The University of Houston baseball team dropped a 7-5 heartbreaker to top-seeded and No. 4-nationally-ranked Rice in the C-USA Championship opener at Trustmark Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pearl, Miss.
The Cougars opened up strong on all cylinders, but spotted the Owls several free bases late in the game, falling to 17-34-1 this season. Rice improved to 40-15 with the win.
Houston tallied nine hits, led by three Cougars with a multi-hit game. Junior Jacob Lueneburg (2x4, R, RBI) drove in a run, tripled and scored with his two-hit effort, while freshman Price Jacobs (2x4, RBI) and senior Codey Morehouse (2x4, R) each tallied two base knocks.
Five Houston players recorded an RBI. Senior John Cannon (1x3, R, RBI), freshman Michael Pyeatt (0x4, RBI), and sophomore Jonathan Davis (0x4, RBI) each drove in a run to accompany Lueneburg and Jacobs. Sophomore Landon Appling (1x3, 2 R, 2 BB) walked twice and scored two runs for Houston.
The Cougars went up 3-0 after the first as Appling opened the game with a leadoff walk. HE moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Lueneburg. Davis’ RBI-groundout went on to plate Appling for the first run of the game. With two outs, Cannon doubled and Jacobs singled, driving in two.
Rice scored a run in the bottom half of the frame on three hits, but Houston starter Jordan Lewis (5.1,8,4,4,4,4) induced an inning-ending double play to escape Rice’s early threat.
The Cougars continued to show well at the plate, adding two more runs in the second to pull ahead 5-1 on three more hits. A leadoff single by Morehouse got things going, followed by a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Runte. With one out and a runner at second, Appling singled then stole second to put runners in scoring position. Pyeatt lasered a ball to left field that was caught for a sacrifice fly. A two-out triple by Lueneburg, his first of the year, followed to give Houston a four-run lead.
Lewis worked a hitless second, but ran into some trouble in the third when the Owls made it a 5-3 game on four straight hits to open the frame.
Rice would add another run in the fourth on an RBI-double that scored a two-out walk.
Senior Jared Ray (2.1,3,3,2,2,0) would enter the game in place of Lewis. Ray worked out of an inherited jam in the sixth, holding Rice scoreless. In the seventh, the Owls used two infield singles and a bases loaded walk to tie the game at 5-5. What looked like an inning-ending double play on a ground ball to Runte at shortstop ended up resulting in the winning run on a safe call at first base.
Houston had a chance in the eighth to tie the game back up at 6-6 when Jensen belted a one-out triple down the right field line, but was thrown out on a safety squeeze bunt attempt by Morehouse.
Rice added a late insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, while Owl reliever Tyler Duffey (1.2,0,0,0,0,3) fanned three in the ninth for the save.
Junior lefty Aaron Stewart (0.1,0,0,0,0,1) fanned one in the eighth.
Earning the win for Rice was reliever Taylor Wall (2.0,2,0,0,1,2), who worked 2.0 scoreless innings, surrendering two hits and a walk with two strikeouts.
Ray suffered the loss for Houston, falling to 2-6 on the year. The righty surrendered two earned runs on three hits in 2.1 innings of work, while walking two.
On the significance of opening the tournament with Rice…
On the effort of starting pitcher Jordan Lewis…
“It was a gutty performance. I would have liked to see him do a better job with two outs, which was his nemesis today. He would get two quick outs and then give up walk and a few runs in a couple of innings. He went out there and pitched his behind off. He gave me everything he had.”