Feb. 1, 2014
HOUSTON - Houston Baseball Greats past and present graced Cougar Field on Saturday to take part in Fan Appreciation Day & the annual Alumni Game in preparation for the 2014 season opener on Friday, Feb. 14 vs. Nicholls State under fourth-year head coach Todd Whitting.
Nearly 1,000 fans swarmed the stands of Cougar Field to get a sneak peek of the beautiful new FieldTurf installed at the home of Houston Baseball. Prizes of signed memorabilia were given away and kids were encouraged to participate in Anthem Buddies, Run the Bases and in the post-game autograph session that featured all current Cougars. Big Leaguers Jesse Crain, Brad Lincoln and Rob Johnson all made an appearance and signed autographs for MLB fans during the fifth inning.
Interaction among the former and current players and coaches began about three hours prior to the 1 p.m. start and concluded with an autograph session showcasing this year's ball club. Former players ranged from the 1967 World Series team to drafted players from last year's ball club.
The 2014 Cougars came away with an 8-0 win over the Alumni, highlighted by a three-hit shutout by five pitchers in junior Aaron Garza, sophomore Jake Lemoine, senior Tyler Ford and juniors Jared Robinson and David Longville. Sophomore third baseman and 2013 C-USA Freshman of the Year Justin Montemayor showed well with a three-for-three day, including two RBI and a double.
Montemayor's offensive effort was followed by two hits and an RBI by senior first baseman Casey Grayson, while senior catcher Caleb Barker drove in two RBI on a hit and sacrifice fly. Sophomore outfielder Kyle Survance was active on the base paths with three stolen bases to accompany a one-for-two effort on a sacrifice fly and walk with an RBI.
The Cougars went up 4-0 after the first inning following four hits and three RBI. The added to their lead in the second with one run on one hit. The pitching staff held the Alumni at bay, while the 2014 Team was able to add padding to its lead with three more runs in the fifth on two hits and two RBI for an 8-0 win.
Sophomore 2B Josh Vidales
Senior 1B Casey Grayson
Head Coach Todd Whitting
On today's effort by the 2014 Cougars
I thought we gave great effort today. I kept telling the guys the one thing I was looking for today was that we compete - how we compete and if we take care of business on how we have been trained to do the last couple of weeks. I thought we came out and played well. I was really excited about the pitching today. I saw a few guys with their velocities creep and we did a great job throwing strikes.
On Fan Appreciation Day and the game itself
This is always good for our program - to get a dress rehearsal in and we learned a few things about us that we can work on in practice as we prepare for our opener.
On welcoming home the Alumni group
Having the Alumni back is always great. They enjoy getting out here and taking a few ground balls. The feedback on the FieldTurf has been outstanding. Everyone is excited about it and loves the look of the field. I always appreciate those guys coming out. It is nice to welcome them home. There is a lot of tradition in this program and a lot of winning teams that have been through here. Our former players are extremely active. They make appearances around the ballpark all the time and we always have great attendance at all of our events. I'm really pleased seeing all of them return home.
On moving forward towards the season opener on Feb. 14
We will keep grinding. We aren't ready yet. We have a ton of things on the checklist punched out, but I feel we are in pretty good shape right now. I know the players are anxious to compete, but we have worked to do before then.
A LOOK AT THE 2014 SCHEDULE
Houston Baseball will once again take advantage of its home crowd by playing 33 home games at Cougar Field, including seven of the first eight games. Following a trip to California, the Cougars will return home to host the next 13 games during the month of March, which includes Baylor, Rice and the opening of conference play with Memphis.
Houston will open its 2014 slate by hosting Nicholls State in a three-game series on Feb. 14-16. This year will mark the first time since 1988 these two programs have met on the diamond with Houston owning a 28-13 overall record.
Houston is also set to host non-conference opponents Michigan (Feb. 21-23) - for the first time since 1998, McNeese State (Feb. 26), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (March 4), Baylor (March 11), Towson (March 14-16), College of Charleston (March 21-23), Texas State (April 8), Sam Houston State (April 22) and Prairie View A&M (May 6).
The Cougars will compete for the first time in the inaugural American Athletic Conference and will welcome Memphis (March 28-30), Louisville (April 11-13), USF (April 17-19), and UCF (May 2-4) to Cougar Field as part of league play.
SEASON TICKETS ON SALE NOW
By visiting UHCougars.com, clicking the Tickets link and following the appropriate links or by clicking here, fans can begin purchasing and requesting specific seats within the friendly confines of Cougar Field.
Reserved Houston Baseball season tickets will be allocated after the renewal deadline (Friday, January 17, 2014). General Admission seats include 33 "Anytime Tickets". You may use one ticket to each home game, 33 tickets to one game, or any combination in between.
General Admission season tickets start for as low as $150 (33 home games/$4.50 per ticket), while Reserved season tickets start at only $200 (33 home games/$6.00 per ticket).
Families can purchase the Family Plan for just $399, which includes two adult and two youth General Admission tickets to each of the 33 home games. The Family Plan does not include the "Anytime Tickets" package.
Fans also can purchase season tickets by visiting or calling the Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or 877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275).
Stay up to date with all Houston Baseball news and highlights by following us on Twitter @UHCougarBB or on Facebook at /HoustonCougarBaseball. Fans can also follow head coach Todd Whitting @toddwhitting on Twitter.