May 23, 2014
No. 12 HOUSTON
CLEARWATER, Fla. - No. 12 Houston Baseball pounded out a season-high 20 hits and scored 13 runs, which proved to be enough to earn a 13-8 win in a slugfest over UCF on Friday evening in the final game of pool play during the American Baseball Championship in Clearwater, Fla. at Bright House Field.
The win lifted the Cougars' overall record to an impressive 43-15 record on the year and a 2-1 mark this week. The last Houston team to have at least 43 wins in a season was the 2002 team with a program-best 48.
Highlighted by a season-high 20 hits, surpassing the previous high of 19 which came in a 20-3 win over Towson back on March 15 at Cougar Field, every Cougar reached base via a base hit in tonight's victory, while seven chipped in with a least one RBI. The offense was key as UCF used 11 hits to score eight runs on four homeruns.
Sophomore Kyle Survance went 4-for-6 with four runs scored, reaching base in his first three at-bats. The four runs scored were a career-best for the Jersey Village, Texas native. He also notched stolen base No. 30 on the year becoming the first Cougar since Michael Bourn (32) in 2002 to record at least 30 stolen bases in a single-season.
Sophomore Justin Montemayor (3x5, 3 R, 2 RBI) recorded three hits and scored three runs, while driving in two to join fellow sophomore Josh Vidales (3x5, R, 2 RBI) with a three-hit night and two RBI and a run scored and senior Casey Grayson (3x6, R, 2 RBI) with three hits and two RBI.
Also producing a multi-hit night was freshman Connor Hollis (2x5, 2 R), senior Frankie Ratcliff (2x4, RBI), while sophomore Ashford Fulmer (1x5, R, 2 RBI) drove in two and seniors Caleb Barker (1x4, R, RBI) and Landon Appling (1x4, 2 SAC) contributed with a hit apiece.
Facing the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year in UCF's Eric Skoglund (4.1,11,7,7,2,2) chased him off the bump after just 4.1 innings of work as he allowed seven earned runs on a11 hits and two walks with just two strikeouts to suffer just his third loss of the season, falling to 9-3.
UCF went on to throw seven different pitchers against the Cougars as six of the seven allowed a hit.
Houston's offense shined, but its pitching and defense kept them in the game, despite allowing four homeruns, a season-high for the Cougars. Houston played errorless baseball and forced UCF into four errors.
Junior starter Aaron Garza (5.0,6,4,4,2,4) made his 15th start of the year and was sharp despite allowing two big hits and four runs and two walks. He earned the win after going 5.0 complete to improve to 8-4 on the season.
He was lights out, holding UCF scoreless through the first three frames and to only four hits through five frames. A three-run homerun chased Garza, bringing in junior lefty Matt Locus (1.0,1,1,1,0,1), who allowed a solo homerun, but nothing more before handing the ball over to senior closer Chase Wellbrock in the seventh.
Wellbrock (3.0,4,3,3,0,1) allowed a three-run homerun and four base knocks in his 3.0 innings of work, but would pick up his 12th save of the year program-best 24th of his career.
Survance got things rolling for the Cougars in the first with a leadoff double into right center and moved up to third on a bunt single by Appling. With one out, Barker laid down a perfectly executed safety squeeze, scoring Survance for the game's first run.
UCF threatened in the second when two hitters reached with one-out back-to-back singles, but Garza worked around the jam to strike out the next hitter and retire the last on a groundout.
Houston took a 2-0 lead in the third on a leadoff infield single by Survance, a sacrifice bunt by Appling, a stolen base and an RBI-groundout by Grayson.
UCF's first baseman James Vasquez belted a one-out solo homerun in the fourth to make it a 2-1 game in favor of the Cougars. Garza worked around another one-out hit to induce yet another double play to end the frame.
The Cougars exploded for five runs in the fifth, highlighted by six hits and four RBI-base hits.
Survance, once again, got things rolling for the Cougars with a leadoff single into centerfield. A sacrifice bunt by Appling moved him to second and later scored on a Grayon RBI-double into the left center gap.
Barker walked to put runners at first and second and then Hollis singled to load the bases for Montemayor, who drove a pitch up the middle to plate two more. He was then followed up by an RBI-single by Ratcliff and an RBI-single by Vidales putting Houston ahead by six.
UCF strikes again with a homerun, this time a three-run shot, to make it a 7-4 game in the sixth inning. Garza handed the ball over to the lefty Locus, who allowed a UCF homerun, but retired the three to escape the inning with Houston clinging to a 7-5 lead.
Houston didn't let the four-run sixth inning by UCF faze them as it went on to match that with four more, taking advantage of several Knight miscues to grab an 11-5 lead in the seventh.
Wellbrock took the mound for his first appearance on the bump this week and shut the Knights down in order in the seventh. The Cougars then added two more runs on a two-run single by Fulmer to put Houston up 13-5.
UCF wouldn't go down easy in the eighth when its first two hitters reached via a single and walk followed by another three-run homerun, making it 13-8.