June 3, 2014
(1)(8) No. 4 LSU
(2) No. 9 HOUSTON
BATON ROUGE, La. - Playing to keep its season alive and advance to the NCAA Super Regional round, No. 9 Houston Baseball overcame an early deficit and scored 12 unanswered runs to earn an impressive 12-2 victory over No. 4 LSU at Alex Box Stadium on Monday evening to capture the 2014 Baton Rouge Regional title and advance on to the Supers for the first time since 2003.
With win No. 48 this season captured, the Cougars have tied the program-record of 48 wins in a single season, coming twice in program history (2002, 2000). Houston improved to 48-16 this season and finished the Baton Rouge Regional with a 4-1 mark with back-to-back wins over the No. 8 national seed in LSU.
The back-to-back wins on the road at The Box marked the first time since 2000 a Houston program had accomplished that feat.
Playing in front of over 11,000 fans at Alex Box Stadium and with the season on the line, Houston stepped up and beat the odds when a seven-run third inning took over, lifting the Cougars to an early 9-2 lead, which held until a three-run eighth extended the lead by 10 runs.
When you mention dominant postseason pitching - junior Jared Robinson's name will appear near the top - as the right-hander entered the game in the third inning in place of freshman starter Andrew Lantrip.
Robinson (6.1,4,0,0,1,8) was brilliant in all facets as he finished with a career-high eight strikeouts in a career-long 6.1 innings - allowing no runs with four hits and one walk to improve to 5-1 on the year - all out of the bullpen.
His effort on the bump was backed by a strong offensive performance, which featured 12 hits and a seamless defensive game - committing no errors for the third time this weekend.
Every Cougar contributed in some way offensively as five Houston players finished with a multi-RBI game. Leading the charge was sophomore Ashford Fulmer (3x3, R, 2 RBI) - who was a perfect three-for-three with two RBI on the night. He was joined by senior Frankie Ratcliff (2x3, 2 R, 2 RBI) and freshman Connor Hollis (2x4, R, 2 RBI) with two base knocks and two RBI.
Joining them in the RBI column was junior Michael Pyeatt (1x4, R, 2 RBI) and senior Landon Appling (1x4, R, 2 RBI) totaled two RBI each on base hits, while senior Caleb Barker (1x3, R, RBI) drove in a run on a hit.
Named Most Outstanding Player of the Baton Rouge Regional, sophomore Kyle Survance (1x4, 2 R, 2B) finished with a base hit, two runs scored and his 31st stolen base of the season. Senior Casey Grayson (1x3, R, RBI) plated a run and walked three times, while sophomore Josh Vidales (0x4, 2 R, BB) walked and scored two runs.
Lantrip (2.2,4,2,2,2,0) worked 2.2 innings in his sixth career start and second on the weekend, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks before handing the ball over to reliever Robinson to close out the game with the Cougars on top.
LSU jumped out and took an early lead on the Cougars, posting two runs on three hits off Lantrip, but Houston returned the scoring effort in the latter half of frame when the first three hitters in Survance, Pyeatt and Grayson all reached by free passes. Ratcliff then drilled a ball into deep centerfield, scoring Survance from third and moving Pyeatt to third.
With one out in the first, Barker laid down a well-placed safety squeeze, scoring Pyeatt to tie the game at 2-2. After a leadoff single in the second by Hollis and a sacrifice bunt by Fulmer to move him to second, he was left stranded, sending the game to the third halted with a stalemate.
Lantrip ran into a little trouble in the third when he allowed two hitters to reach via the walk. After a two-out walk, he handed the ball over to Robinson with runners at second and third where the righty induced an inning-ending strikeout on a 3-2 pitch.
For the third straight inning Houston's leadoff hitter reached and that proved to be big in the third frame as the Cougars posted seven runs on five hits to take a 9-2 lead in the game. The inning was started when Grayson, Ratcliff and Barker all reached via a walk, single and hit-by-pitch, respectively.
Grayson was erased at home on a force out, but with one out, the Cougars let loose for seven runs, beginning with an RBI-hit-by-pitch coming off the shoulder of Appling. The scoring continued when Hollis roped a double down the right field line, plating two for a 5-2 lead. Fulmer followed with an RBI-single and Survance walked before Pyeatt smoked a two-strike pitch through the left side, scoring two more runs for an 8-2 lead, allowing Ratcliff to add to his RBI total tonight with his second sacrifice fly.
Robinson was in total control as he cruised through four innings without allowing an LSU hit until the Tigers struck for three in the eighth. However, no score changed happened as Robinson was able to induce an inning-ending groundout.
To the ninth, the Cougars padded their lead with three more runs when it loaded the bases with one out. Grayson scored on a passed ball, followed by an Appling RBI-single to score Ratcliff and a sacrifice fly by Fulmer to score Vidales to make it 12-2.
Robinson struck out the first two LSU hitters in the ninth, but the second reached on a ball in the dirt. The Tigers then singled, but were retired on the two outs, ending their season with a 46-16-1 overall record.
BATON ROUGE ALL-REGIONAL TEAM
P - Jared Robinson, Houston
P - Aaron Nola, LSU
C - Caleb Barker, Houston
1B - Sam Roberson, SLU
2B - Jacob Williams, SLU
SS - Alex Bregman, LSU
3B - John Mulle, Bryant
OF - Kyle Survance, Houston
OF - Andrew Godbold, SLU
OF - Carl Anderson, Bryant
DH - Sean McMullen, LSU
Most Outstanding Player: Kyle Survance, Houston
Houston Head Coach Todd Whitting
"First of all, I'd like to thank the folks at LSU. I've been fortunate enough to play in a few of these, and this is the best regional that I've been in. The hospitality was off the chart for me, my players, my staff and our fans so I really appreciate the effort from the folks at LSU. Wow - we came out of the gates, obviously got down two runs and it's kind of how we are. We just come right back and answer them and then put up the big seven-run inning. Never really gave in - never really gave LSU a chance to get back in the thing. Jared Robinson, what do you say about that? That's one of the best pitching performances that I've ever been a part of. I've been fortunate enough to be around some great pitchers. Up and down the lineup I don't know where you even start with those guys. The whole regional it was different guys on a given night. Kyle Survance has a tough - I think it was the first day it all runs together - but a really tough first day, comes back, he's MVP of the regional. We tried from day one at fall practice that the game is nine innings, the season's long; you just keep grinding away and see what happens. You just try to go 1-0 every single day. This team to the nth degree has really done that. I'm really fortunate also - I have a tremendous coaching staff. These guys - I've said it all year long - I think I have the best coaches in the county. These guys are tireless recruiters, tireless workers and I truly appreciate everything they do for the University of Houston."
On his pitching depth
"Well we have tremendous depth in our bullpen, and that's one thing that's been a key for us the entire season. I felt like earlier in the season our starting pitching was carrying through most of our games and then have one or two innings in the back end with our relievers. As the season's gone on, the middle relief, and there's some of them that we didn't throw this weekend that I'd have felt perfectly fine with them getting out there. But the Jared Robinson's, the Tyler Ford's, the Chase Wellbrock's, Bubba Maxwell - I'm forgetting some - so on and so forth that have just been lights out for us in the last month."
On the previous 5-4 win carrying over into tonight's game
"Momentum is a huge thing. To be able to steal momentum in this ballpark, which I think is the toughest place to play in college baseball, especially you're facing an LSU team that was the hottest team in baseball - you know coming off of an SEC Championship. This place is rocking and rolling. To grab that momentum last night and be able to play it through to today, you just got to tip your hat to our club. I talk to them all the time about - will is an amazing thing. The will to win can make you do phenomenal things, and that's what happened this weekend."
On bringing Jared Robinson in after throwing earlier this weekend
"Yeah - I mean at this time of year where it's all hands on deck. `T-Ford' [Tyler Ford] (and) Wellbrock were ready to roll. Jared (Robinson) has the hot hand right now. You just do what you can to win the games."
On if he thinks Houston will host Super Regional
"I do. I don't think there's any question in my mind we're going to host a Super Regional. I don't know - our RPI has got to be around two or three. We came to a national-seed regional and won against an unbelievable team. I guess you can say we're the 17th team when it came to hosting. I don't know what else we can do to get to play at home next weekend. But you know what? We've been on the road four straight - is it four-straight weeks? Four-straight weekends in a row we've been on the road, going back to conference play, the conference tournament and now here. So if we have to go on the road to Texas, we're ready for it. I don't even know what my house looks like."
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Houston will await its fate to see if the NCAA Committee grants them the chance to host Texas next weekend in the Super Regional round for a chance to go to Omaha for the College World Series. The decision on Super Regional hosts will be announced at approximately 7 a.m. CT on Tuesday.