May 31, 2014
(2) #9 HOUSTON
BATON ROUGE, La. - Playing in its first NCAA Regional game since 2008, No. 9 Houston Baseball won in dramatic fashion, earning a 3-2 walkoff win over Bryant on a Justin Montemayor sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday evening in the Baton Rouge Regional at Alex Box Stadium.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 45-15 on the year and are just three wins shy of tying the program-record of 48, last coming in 2002. With the loss, Bryant fell to 42-15 and will face (4) Southeastern Louisiana at 2 p.m. Saturday in the first elimination game.
The Cougars will face No. 1-seed and No. 8 overall national seed LSU at 7 p.m. Saturday evening. Houston will be the home team by virtue of a coin flip.
In Friday's win, Houston managed only four hits to Bryant's 10, but took advantage of four defensive miscues by Bryant to scratch across all three runs. Houston has now played three straight games without an error and four of the last five.
After surrendering a 2-1 lead and allowing Bryant to use two hits in the ninth to tie the game, the Cougars responded in the 10th when sophomore Ashford Fulmer worked a walk to lead off the frame. He was then sacrificed to second by senior Casey Grayson and moved up to third on a passed ball. With one out and the speedster at third base, sophomore Justin Montemayor roped a ball to left field with the outfielders playing shallow, but was able to get it just deep enough for Fulmer to score for the walkoff win.
Montemayor (1x3, R, RBI) drove in the game-winner, doubled and scored a run for the Cougars, while sophomore Kyle Survance (1x4, R) scored a run and added a hit to join senior Frankie Ratcliff (1x4) and sophomore Josh Vidales (1x4) in the hit column.
The Cougars worked six walks, took extra bases on two wild pitches, two passed ball and two catcher's interferences off the bat of junior Michael Pyeatt.
Junior reliever Jared Robinson (6.2,2,1,1,2,4) went a career-long 6.2 innings out of the pen and struck out a career-tying four, which has happened twice before. He surrendered just one run on two hits with two walks, but was granted the no-decision after Bryant tied the game in the ninth.
Senior Tyler Ford (1.0,1,0,0,0,2) was the pitcher of record when Houston walked off the win as the lefty improved to an impressive 9-0 this season - all coming in relief.
Freshman Andrew Lantrip (2.0,5,1,1,0,1) allowed five hits and one run in 2.0 innings in his start, but exited in the third. Senior Chase Wellbrock (0.1,2,0,0,0,0) pitched in relief of Robinson and worked 0.1 innings, allowing just two hits.
Bryant jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first after opening the game with three straight base hits, including an RBI-single into left field. After allowing three hits, Lantrip settled in to record his first strikeout before inducing an inning-ending double play to escape any more damage in the first inning.
Lantrip exits after 2.0 complete innings as Bryant put runners at first and second to open the top of the third, handing the ball over to Robinson. The Lubbock, Texas native worked out of the inherited jam to keep the Bulldogs off the board, inducing two flyouts to accompany a strikeout.
The Cougars struck for a run in the top of the third without recording a hit as Survance drew a two-out walk to reach base safely in now 19 consecutive games. Pyeatt then followed up by reaching first on a catcher's interference. The duo on the base path grabbed the extra base on a wild pitch, setting up a chance for Survance to tie the game on a passed ball.
Houston had a chance to take the lead in the fifth when it loaded the bases with one out, but Bryant ace Kevin McAvoy induced an inning-ending double play to keep the Cougars off the board, moving to the sixth.
Montemayor opened the sixth with a double over the centerfielder's head before moving up a base on a Connor Hollis' sacrifice bunt. With runners at the corners, Ratcliff's groundball was played as a double-play ball, but Montemayor came home to score, putting Houston up 2-1.
With a team that entered the game ranked No. 8 in the nation in total stolen bases with 96, Bryant attempted its first on senior Caleb Barker with one out and a runner at first in the seventh, but the Houston senior gunned down the runner to make it two outs for Robinson as he went on to record his third straight inning without allowing a hit.
After being held without a run since the first inning, Bryant used two hits in the ninth to tie the game back up at 2-2, which later forced extra-innings.
It took until the 10th inning for Houston, but the Cougars put pressure on the Bryant pitchers from the base paths, enabling Fulmer to reach third and score on the game-winning RBI-sacrifice fly by Montemayor.
Bryant starter Kevin McAvoy (6.2,3,2,0,0,3) was sharp in his start, lasting 6.2 innings, allowing no earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts, but was granted the no-decision.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
"Bryant is an extremely good baseball team. Their starting pitcher, Kevin McAvoy, was really good. They are scrappy and really physical. I don't think we've seen the last of them. Our team just grinds games out with good pitching. It might not necessarily come from our starter. Tonight is no different than a lot of the games we have played this year. I'm just really proud of our guys and the effort. The guys didn't get down in the eighth inning when we gave up that run. Jared Robinson absolutely saved us today. We kept a really good hitting team off guard."
On facing LSU
"We are not going to change anything going into tomorrow. I've been through a lot of these regionals and it's a lot of the same thing. The only thing that changes are the distractions and the environment around you. If you can put those things to the side and play then you have a chance to win. I told them that tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. There is going to be a packed house out there. LSU is such a great team, and we are going to face the best pitcher in the country. You can't ask for anything more on a big stage like this."
On taking the underdog role
"I guess on paper we are. They are one of the hottest teams in the country right now. We'll take the underdog role. We have nothing to lose and not one person in the country thought we would be here back in the fall. We are going to go out there and continue to play the game as we always have. We don't have any superstars, but we have a really good team. They play really well together and never quit."
Junior Jared Robinson
On his relief performance
"I just came in and tried to get one pitch at a time, let my defense get behind me and try to see what happens."
Sophomore Justin Montemayor
On his final at bat
"My last at bat, I was going up there and realized he was throwing a lot of fastballs. So I was looking for a fastball, took a pitch in and drove it to the outfield."
On facing LSU
"We anticipated it, we want to win every game. We look to play the best teams. That's how you get on to the next round. We got a little sneak peak of the atmosphere and it's going to be a lot of fun tomorrow night. They're obviously a great team from top to bottom. They can hit and pitch, but we just have to come out and play our game."
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(2) No. 9 Houston will face (1) No. 4 LSU at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the first winner's bracket game. The game will once again be televised on ESPN3 and fans can listen LIVE for free on UHCougars.com.
UHAA UPDATED INFORMATION
A pregame Saturday party will be held by the UHAA at Little Village | 447 Third Street (downtown next to the Hampton Inn) in Baton Rouge, La. | beginning at 5 p.m. and done at 6:15 p.m. | Food and beverages provided.