June 7, 2014
No. 5 HOUSTON
NO. 9 TEXAS
AUSTIN, Texas - One of the most memorable Houston Baseball seasons to date came to a close as the No. 5-ranked Cougars fell 4-0 to No. 9 Texas in the Austin Super Regional on Saturday afternoon at Disch-Falk Field.
The loss was just the 18th on the year for Houston as the Cougars closed out their season with an impressive 48-18 overall mark - tying the most wins in program history (last coming in 2002, 2000).
Houston played its final five weeks on the road, which saw the Cougars post a 12-5 record in those 17 games - winning a Conference Tournament and Regional Championship title to advance to the Super Regional round of NCAA play.
Accompanying the 48-win season was the first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2008 as the Cougars captured the Baton Rouge Regional on the road at LSU to clinch its fourth all-time Super Regional trip, and first since 2003.
Houston fell just two wins shy of reaching Omaha as Texas took the first two games of the best-of-three series this weekend. The Cougars captured the American Baseball Championship tournament title and won four games in the NCAA postseason - as head coach Todd Whitting, led the charge.
Despite being shutout on Saturday, Houston out hit Texas, 10-8, led by three Cougars with a multi-hit game. Sophomore Josh Vidales (3x4) notched his second straight three-hit game, tallying six in the Super Regional, while senior Caleb Barker (2x4) closed out his collegiate career with a two-hit day to join freshman Connor Hollis (2x3) with two base knocks.
The tough-luck loss fell in the hands of 14 stranded base runners on the day as Houston didn't strikeout the entire afternoon at the plate. Timely hitting was key for Texas as it strung together a four-run fourth, which proved to be the difference.
Houston saw a few opportunities slip by when it stranded bases loaded in the fifth and eighth as the Longhorns work around the base traffic to induce two more double plays - totaling five on the weekend.
The Cougars received the start from junior Aaron Garza (3.2,6,4,4,1,0) who allowed four runs on six hits and one walk in 3.2 innings to suffer the loss, ending the 2014 year with a 9-5 overall record.
Garza was sharp through the first three innings, before a leadoff unlucky double that took Pyeatt deep into the warning track found the ground and after that, Texas used that momentum to chase Garza.
Seeing action out of the pen and holding Texas scoreless for the final 4.1 innings was the combination of junior Jared Robinson (2.1,2,0,0,1,3), who fanned three and allowed just two hits in his 2.1 innings.
He handed the ball over to senior closer and Houston's all-time saves leader Chase Wellbrock (2.0,0,0,0,0,2), who was lights out in his final collegiate appearance as a Cougars, holding Texas hitless in the last 2.0 innings with two strikeouts.
The work of the Houston bullpen ended the season with 10.2 scoreless inning, dating back to the 12-2 rout of LSU to capture the Baton Rouge Regional last weekend. In those 10.2 innings, Robinson contributed with 8.2 innings.
A four-run fourth inning for Texas was the difference as the Longhorns used five hits, including a two-run single with no outs to go ahead. The first three hitters of the frame reached before Houston was able to record an out. Texas then used the two-run single, sacrifice fly and RBI-single to go up by four.
Houston responded in the latter half with runners in scoring position, but would strand bases loaded to end the frame. The Cougars would continue to claw and make noise on the base paths, but weren't able to find that key hit when needed as they went on to strand 14 and five in the final two innings of the game.
Texas starter Parker French (6.0,5,0,0,2,0) would earn the win, improving to 6-5 with 6.0 shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks.
Houston bids farewell to nine departing seniors as Landon Appling, Chase Wellbrock, Tyler Ford, Caleb Barker, Casey Grayson, Frankie Ratcliff, Jacob Lueneburg, Daniel Smith and Aaron Stewart all made contributions to one off the most memorable postseason runs of late.
Houston Head Coach Todd Whitting
“Well I’m extremely proud of my players, my senior class, especially these two guys right here (Landon Appling and Chase Wellbrock). They’re the only two that have been with me all four years since I came back home to the University of Houston. It’s a great day for us and also a sad day for us. We were so close to going to the ultimate goal, which is playing in Omaha. I also want to thank all the folks in Houston, our administration, (University of Houston President) Dr. (Renu) Khator, (University of Houston Athletics Director) Mack Rhoades, leaders of our university, all of our former players who played for us, all supporters of the program. You have no idea the amount of people that care back in Houston about this baseball team and this program, and to them, I just want to say thanks. Our team played today like we played all year, they never stopped. I believe in the last four innings we had base runners all over the place. We just couldn’t get that knock. It happens; we just couldn’t get that big hit to get us jump-started. I thought we played well, we were into the game, and our kids played absolutely hard until the last out.”
On not having a big hit like in previous postseason games
“It just didn’t happen. We ran out of gas. They’re out there fighting as hard as they can go and we just didn’t get that hit, it’s that simple.”
On hitting the balls right to the Texas fielders
“We stung some balls. We had a situation earlier when it was 0-0 and (Caleb) Barker lines out to center field with runners in scoring position. We had the line out there late. We hit a couple of balls on the screws; they just didn’t fall.”
On if the scouting reports on Texas matched with what he saw this weekend
“Yeah I think so. They were pretty much what we thought they were going to be. They’re a good team. We knew they were going to pitch really well. This time of year, the experience that I’ve had playing in these games, you’ve got to hit your way through them. You’ve got to have offense. They’ve got a whole stable of arms down there. It just didn’t work out and we couldn’t get that big knock.”
On if he considered going to bullpen in the fourth inning when they faced nine batters
“The inning came down to just a couple of mistakes. I said that coming into the weekend that the team that makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win and that’s exactly how it played out. We just had a tough break on the fly ball and they lay down a perfect bunt. It is what it is.”
On what they’ve accomplished this year and what it looks like going forward
“You’re talking about a program that, two years ago, won 18 games. We were so far away from being in this position right now that we could hardly see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you’ve just got to keep your nose down and keep grinding. I have tremendous coaches, we have tremendous players, we have tremendous support, so I would expect us to be able to maintain this and keep going forward.”
On the last time he had 18 base runners left on base in two games and if it hurts more
“It’s been a while, it’s been a while. Yeah just knowing there’s opportunities there, but that’s the game of baseball. It just didn’t happen for us. In the big inning they had, they go bases loaded and we get an out. We’re a groundball away from getting out of that thing, but they got the big hit and we didn’t.”
On Josh Vidales having six hits in the series
“Yeah he’s picked it up the last couple of weekends. He’s played really well for us, so hopefully that’s a springboard for him going into next season.”
Senior Landon Appling
On how tough it was to have so much traffic on the bases this weekend but couldn’t get that big hit
“It’s frustrating. Like Coach (Whitting) said, we got people on all weekend long, but we just couldn’t get them across and couldn’t get the big hit. We’ve been getting the big hit last week at LSU, but that didn’t turn out too good for us today.”
Senior Chase Wellbrock
On what he will take from this season compared to two years ago
“Right now, I can’t think of any negatives throughout this whole season, throughout my whole college career. It’s been a great experience playing for Coach Whitting for all four years and playing for University of Houston. Right now, I think we just need to keep our heads up. Like Coach said, we didn’t catch any breaks this weekend. They caught a few, but I think we still need to hold our heads up high.”
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