June 1, 2014
(2) No. 9 HOUSTON
BATON ROUGE, La. - No. 9 Houston Baseball kept its season alive with a 9-5 win over Southeastern LA on Sunday afternoon in the Baton Rouge Regional at Alex Box Stadium and will now prepare to face (1) (8) No. 4 LSU in a must-win game to force a Monday Regional final.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 46-16 - now just two wins shy of tying the program record in wins at 48, which last happened in 2002.
Offensively, Houston worked Southeastern into six early errors, which led to seven early runs, which proved to be enough down the stretch. The Cougars tallied 12 hits, led by senior Frankie Ratcliff's two-double play, which also resulted in two RBI.
Also adding to the offense was freshman Connor Hollis (2x5, R) with two hits, joining seniors Caleb Barker (1x3, R), Casey Grayson (1x5, R) and sophomores Justin Montemayor (1x5, R) and Ashford Fulmer (1x4) with a base knock.
Junior starter Aaron Garza (6.0,10,2,2,0,1) went 6.0 complete innings, but was forced to exit after over an hour weather delay. The righty, in his first Regional appearance of his career, allowed two runs on 10 hits with one strikeout in the win, improving to 9-4 on the year.
Sophomore Bubba Maxwell (2.0,4,3,3,1,1) pitched 2.0 innings in relief, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk with one strikeout.
Senior Tyler Ford (1.0,2,0,0,0,2) made two huge strikeouts with inherited runners on in the ninth to preserve the Cougars' lead despite allowing two late hits to the frame.
Houston used a leadoff double by Survance and a throwing error by the Southeastern LA third baseman to plate its first run of the game and take a 1-0 lead into the latter half of the frame for Garza and defense.
A six-run second inning lifted the Cougars to a 7-0 lead after just its second time at-bat as Hollis, Survance, Montemayor and Ratcliff all recorded hits in the frame.
Survance got the scoring going in the inning with a two-out, two-run single to put Houston up 3-0 before Southeastern LA booted the ball around, committing four errors before Ratcliff's two-run double off the left center wall extended the Cougars' lead to seven at 7-0.
Southeastern LA got on the board with two runs in the third inning following three straight base hits and a Houston error - its first in five games. `
After a one hour and three minute rain delay, Garza hands the ball over to Maxwell in the seventh, who worked a scoreless frame.
After scoring six runs in the second innings, Houston was held scoreless until the eighth when Appling drove a two-out pitch into the right field corner for three bases, notching his first triple of the year, plating both Barker and Survance, who reached on singles.
Southeastern notched back-to-back, one-out doubles in the eighth, which later paid off as the Lions cut the Cougars' lead to five with a two-run single to make it a 9-4 game heading into the ninth.
The Lions didn't back down as they tallied three straight hits, including an RBI base knock before Ford slammed the door and fanned the next two. He then induced a final groundout to keep the Cougars' season alive.
Houston Head Coach Todd Whitting
"First of all, you have to tip your hat to Coach Riser and his bunch. I want to congratulate them on a great season. That's a team right there that plays really hard, and I think that's a reflection of their head coach. There are great things to come in that program. The fans and all involved in that program should be very pleased. I thought we played well. I thought we played hard. We had to match their energy. They definitely came out with a lot more energy than we did early, but I thought we matched it. The second inning was big for us. (Aaron) Garza, I think he'll tell you he didn't have his best stuff. The thing about him is he just competes like crazy. It's really a testament to him on a day when we didn't have great stuff. We were playing against a great hitting team. To go out there and barrel through that thing and just keep pounding away at it, I'm really happy with him."
On his faith in the team's ability to play well tonight
"Nothing surprises me with our team. Just about the time you think they are down and out, they'll come back and will just keep fighting. No matter what happens tonight or tomorrow night or how this thing goes the rest of the year, I couldn't be more proud of this team. Things just kind of work out for them like it did today. We will just get out there tonight and see how it goes."
On the difference the Southeastern Louisiana errors made in the game
"You never know, but that's the game of baseball. You take what the other team gives you. I thought we did a good job of battling and putting the ball in play. They did have some miscues in that inning that led to some big errors, but we had a double mixed in there with some RBIs, so we had some good at-bats mixed in with a few errors. When the other team kicks it around, it definitely helps you. There's no doubt about that."
On using last night's game to prepare for tonight's game with LSU
"They had a great crowd out here last night. No matter how you prepare for it, it's tough. We have one player on our team that has regional experience. One player that has been to the NCAA Tournament. Playing in that environment, hopefully they got that out of the way. I thought we played well last night, LSU just played better. When that happens, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. I think they'll come out hungry. Our backs are against the wall. We are back in the corner. We've got to play a lot of baseball to win this thing, but it would not surprise me if we did well tonight and tomorrow as well."
On regaining control out of the weather delay
"I think it was huge. Coming out of that weather delay...we had one a couple of weeks ago, too. I always like to be at-bat when we come out of those things because then you can get a feel of being back in the game again as opposed to being on the other side with our backs against the wall. It was huge. That two-run triple down the right field line by Landon Appling (in the 8th inning) ended up being a huge play for us."
Junior Aaron Garza
On his outing against Southeastern
"Southeastern is a really good hitting team. They were hitting the fastballs a lot of the time. I had to dig down deep and really mix up my pitches. I had to throw the change-up in there with some conviction. I had to get Southeastern to hit into some double plays for us. That is what was working today."
On getting a seven run lead early
"You still have to go out there and pitch like it is a one-run game. I believe I did that. I let some pitches get away from me in the third inning and that did hurt me. I had a pep talk from my coaches and team. I just battled after that. I competed the best that I could and tried to get a lot of outs."
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Houston will now face (1) (8) No. 4 LSU at approximately 7:35 p.m. tonight. The Cougars must win to continue playing. The game will be live on ESPN3.com.