May 31, 2014
(1) (8) #4 LSU
(2) #9 HOUSTON
BATON ROUGE, La. - No. 9 Houston Baseball dropped its first game of the Baton Rouge Regional on Saturday in a 5-1 fall to No. 4 LSU at Alex Box Stadium and with that the Cougars will face Southeastern Louisiana in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Sunday.
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 45-16 on the year and dropped just their third game in the last 15 contests. Houston played its fourth straight errorless baseball game and fifth in last six games.
Houston managed only five hits in the game, but worked SEC Pitcher of the Year Aaron Nola to 104 pitches through just 7.1 innings.
The Cougars were led offensively by junior Michael Pyeatt (1x4, RBI) with the lone RBI for Houston on an RBI-single in the second inning, while seniors Caleb Barker (1x3), Casey Grayson (1x4), Landon Appling (1x2, SB) and sophomore Justin Montemayor (1x4, R) each added a hit with Montemayor scoring the lone run for the Cougars.
Houston starter Jake Lemoine (6.1,10,5,5,4,3) allowed five runs on 10 hits an four walks with three strikeouts, suffering the loss to fall to 6-7 on the season. Out of the pen, junior Matt Locus (1.2,2,0,0,0,1) and sophomore Jared West (1.0,0,0,0,0,0) combined to throw 2.2 shutout innings in relief.
LSU used a leadoff double and an RBI-single in the top of the second to break open the scoreless game and go up 1-0. Lemoine was able to settle in and induce a flyout and two groundouts to strand two Tigers.
After LSU's Aaron Nola struck out the side the first, Montemayor opened the second with a leadoff bunt single down the third base line for the Cougars' first hit of the game. That bunt single set up the Cougars first run, which came on a two-out single by Pyeatt after Montemayor took second and third on back-to-back groundballs to the right side by Hollis and Ratcliff, respectively.
LSU would then use three straight singles in the third to go back up 3-1. The Tigers threatened in the fourth with a leadoff double, but Barker guns down the runner at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt and Lemoine finishes the inning off with a 4-6-3 double play to send the Cougars to bat, trailing 3-1.
Appling reached for the second time on the night with a one-out single, stole second and moved to third on a groundout, but was left stranded in the fifth with the Cougars down two.
LSU adds to its lead in the seventh with back-to-back RBI-singles to go ahead 5-1 as Lemoine was chased after 6.1 innings, handing the ball over to Locus, who worked around the inherited base runners to induce two final flyouts and went on to toss 1.2 scoreless frames for the Cougars before handing the ball over to West in the ninth.
Barker finished the night throwing three out attempting to steal a base.
Nola (7.1,4,1,1,1,7) improved to 11-1 on the year with his seven-strikeout, four-hit, one-run effort for LSU.
Houston Head Coach Todd Whitting
"Well, I thought we played hard. We played all nine innings as hard as we could go. You know we went up against a buzz saw in (Aaron) Nola, but I thought tonight - I tell the team all the time - it's not who has the best team, but who plays the best. Tonight, although I thought we played well, I just thought LSU played a little bit better than we did. They were able to cash in on a couple of opportunities. They had a couple of big defensive plays. I thought when we had momentum they kind of took it right back from us. I'm proud of my guys, and I know we'll respond and be ready to roll tomorrow."
Junior Michael Pyeatt
On his RBI single in the second inning
"I was trying to be aggressive early in the count and got a fast ball I could hit to the middle of the field."
Senior Caleb Barker
On Houston pitcher Jake Lemoine's performance
"I thought Jake was pretty good tonight. I think he ran into some tough luck. He executed some good pitches, kind of have to give LSU credit. They grinded out a lot of at-bats at the plate. I think he fell behind in a couple counts and left a couple pitches up. Give credit to LSU, they took advantage of them."
On facing LSU pitcher Aaron Nola
"Obviously, with a guy like (Aaron) Nola, he has really good stuff. But the way he fills up the strike zone with his pitches - if you're not aggressive, it's very easy to find yourself behind in the count. When he does get ahead, he has stuff to put you away with. I think tonight, Aaron Nola was as good as advertised like he usually is. I think the numbers speak for themselves. Just attacking the zone, he just made quality pitches all night."
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(2) No. 9 Houston will face (4) Southeastern Louisiana in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Sunday on ESPN3.com. The winner of that game will then face (1) (8) No. 4 LSU at 7 p.m. Sunday evening, also on ESPN3.com.