June 2, 2014
(2) No. 9 HOUSTON
(1) (8) No. 4 LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. - Down 4-0 in the eighth, No. 9 Houston Baseball never let up as it rallied back to tie the game and force extra innings, later coming away with a 5-4 victory on a Kyle Survance two-out, RBI-single, winning in 11 innings over No. 4 LSU to advance to the Regional Championship game on Monday at 7:05 p.m.
The Cougars and Tigers will square off with a winner take all game on Monday to advance to the Super Regionals next weekend. The last time a Cougar team advanced to the Regional Championship game came back in 2008 - the last regional appearance for Houston - when they fell to Texas A&M in the College Station Regional.
With the win, Houston improved to 47-16 overall and 4-0 in extra-inning games this season - and has won 16 of its last 20 and finished Sunday with two victories to force a Game 7 in the Baton Rouge Regional.
You couldn't have asked for a better performance out of senior closer Chase Wellbrock (5.0,3,1,1,0,2) as the Houston all-time saves leader comes in and shuts LSU down, allowing just one run on three hits in 5.0 complete innings with two strikeouts for the win - improving to 5-0 in his senior campaign.
His effort was backed by a tremendous defensive effort by the Cougars - who played yet another errorless baseball game - making several web gem catches in the outfield to preserve the late lead, including a wall-crashing catch in extras by senior Landon Appling to keep the Tigers off the bases.
Houston tallied nine hits and drove in five runs - all of which were registered as RBI.
Survance (3x5, R, RBI) drove in the game-winner in the 11th on his third hit of the night. He was joined by a two-RBI night by Appling (1x5, R, 2 RBI) and senior Caleb Barker (1x4, 2 RBI) - who each drove in two on singles up the middle in the eighth - combining for the four-run frame to tie it.
Sophomore Josh Vidales (2x4, 2 R) was the table-setter all night, tallying two base hits and a walk, while scoring a run to join senior Casey Grayson (1x5) and junior Michael Pyeatt (1x2, R) with big hits that made large contributions in the winning effort.
It was a two-out single by Vidales in the 11th, followed by a two-out double by Pyeatt that set the table for Survance to drive in the winning run.
David Longville (5.0,5,1,1,1,2) made one of the best starts of his Houston career against LSU, lasting 5.0 complete innings, allowing just one run on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts - but was the hard-luck loser, falling to 1-1 on the year.
Sophomore Jared West (1.0,2,2,2,0,0) allowed two runs on two hits in 1.0 inning of work in relief, before handing the ball over to Wellbrock to finish the final five innings on just 55 pitches.
LSU broke open a scoreless game in the second with a solo homerun, but Longville was able to settle in and retire the next three. The Tigers threatened in the first as well with one out and runners on the corners, but a groundball to Grayson was putout at first before Grayson-to-Barker-to-Hollis on a 3-2-5 putout caught the LSU runner trying to take home on the groundball.
After a leadoff single by Survance to open the game, the Cougars were held without a hit until Grayson's two-out base knock through the ride side in the sixth inning.
LSU struck for a leadoff single in the sixth, chasing starter Longville after 5.0 complete innings. The Mission Viejo, Calif. native was sharp in his 14th start of the year. West took over for him and was able to retire the next three to escape any jam.
Ratcliff drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, but an unlucky break fell LSU's way when Hollis' sacrifice bunt was missed by the first baseman, finding the second baseman's glove behind the bag for a 4-6 double play to erase the runners.
After LSU scored two on an inside-the-park homerun that was protested on the spot after the ball was under the right field line gate - the Tigers held a 4-0 lead going into the eighth.
Houston used that momentum to strike for two runs in the eighth. Appling delivered to make it 4-2 on a two-run single up the middle with no outs in the inning. Grayson then executed a flawless groundball to put runners at second and third with just one out for Barker, who drove a 2-1 pitch into centerfield, scoring Survance and Appling - making it 4-4 in the eighth.
The Cougars made it interesting in the ninth with two walks and runners at the corners with two outs, but LSU was able to escape without any runs following an inning-ending strikeout.
Wellbrock allows a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth, but LSU is kept off the board, sending the game into extra innings - the second of the weekend.
In the top of the 11th and with two outs, Houston picked up a single off the bat of Vidales - his second of the game - to begin the extra-inning scoring threat. Pyeatt then laced a double down the right field line to put runners at second and third with two outs for Survance, who continued to be the go-to guy with runners in scoring position. The Jersey Village, Texas native placed a perfect ball down the left field line to score Vidales to put the Cougars up 5-4 with three outs to play.
Wellbrock returned and was sharp as always, inducing three straights to win it for the Coogs.
Houston Head Coach Todd Whitting
"Wow - what a game. You know that was two really good teams getting after each other wire-to-wire. I thought LSU played outstanding. I thought our team just played really, really good. We just didn't give in. There was a point in that game where we kind of could have tucked our tails a little bit there and shut that thing down. But this time of year, you just have to keep playing. I've said that about this team all year that they never quit. They never quit. I don't know what our record is, but however many games we've played there's never been one time where I felt like this team has shut it down. When you have that characteristic, it can go a long way for you. I really appreciate it as a head coach."
On the controversial inside the park home run during the 7th inning
"We felt that it was lodged. We went through the protest process and got denied. Now looking back on that thing, that kind of jumpstarted us a little bit. We come right back and respond after that. It is what it is, and that thing ended up working in our favor."
On his pitching staff going into tomorrow's game
"We still got a lot down there. We have a few guys that can come back. We could throw `Johnny Wholestaff' tomorrow. You know it might be one of those, but we still got some bullets in there. There are some guys that haven't pitched yet that will get an opportunity. Like I said, we've got some guys we can recycle back through."
Senior Caleb Barker
On his game tying single
"When they made the pitching change to the left-handed pitcher (Zac Person), Casey Grayson was up to bat. I knew that he was going to try and get a sacrifice. Grayson really put the ball in play and helped advance the runner. I knew that I had to stay short and compact with my swing. I was able to get down in the zone and send the ball up the middle."
On the momentum change after this game
"You get to this time of the year, and these are those games you enjoy playing in. We knew that our season was on the line. We will come out tomorrow and expect a really tough fight with LSU. They are a really great team. I am really excited to be back at it tomorrow."
Senior Chase Wellbrock
On coming in as relief pitcher
"Tonight, I was expecting anything. We were backed into a corner. We were playing for one game. I was ready for anything. When my number got called, I just tried to go in and do my job. I knew my teammates were going to back me up 100 percent. All I had to do was come in and do my job, which was to throw strikes."
On the momentum change after this game
"No game at this time of the year is easy. We knew that both teams wanted it just as bad. We were relentless, and we really want to win this."
Sophomore Kyle Survance
On his game-winning RBI
"The at-bat before, the pitcher (Joe Broussard) had been working me mainly away. I went with the same approach, which was to hit the ball into the opposite field. I was able to get enough bat on the ball."
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(2) No. 9 Houston will face off with (1) (8) No. 4 LSU in the Regional Championship game at 7:05 p.m. on Monday evening in Baton Rouge, La. at Alex Box Stadium. The game will be aired on ESPN3.com. The winner will advance to the Super Regional round. Site TBD.