PREVIEW: Baseball Embarks on 2014 Season

Feb. 11, 2014




HOUSTON - Houston Baseball will embark on its 2014 season this weekend when it hosts Nicholls State at Cougar Field during Opening Weekend. The series is set to begin Friday at 6:30 p.m., continue on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m.


The Cougars will embark on its first season in the American Athletic Conference and first season on FieldTurf.

Houston will face five first-time opponents: Towson, College of Charleston, Rutgers, Temple, UConn.

Houston welcomes seven JUCO newcomers for the season: Coakley, Robinson, Locus, Dowdy, Longville, Cobb and Maxwell.

Houston will play nine games against the Southland Conference this season, beginning with the three-game set vs. Nicholls State.

Starting pitchers Aaron Garza (5) and Jake Lemoine (7) combined for 12 wins in the 2013 season.

Relievers Chase Wellbrock (11) and Tyler Ford (2) combined for 13 saves last season.

The Cougars will play their 14th straight season in the Houston College Classic held at Minute Maid Park on Feb. 28-March 1.

The Cougars welcome 15 newcomers to the squad. Of the 15, seven are JUCO with eight as true freshmen.

Entering the 2014 season, junior OF Michael Pyeatt rides a 17-game reaching base streak.

Houston will play its 20th season at Cougar Field as the play began back in 1995.

Houston and Nicholls State will meet for the first time in 26 years. The last meeting fell back in 1988.

29 Houston Baseball student-athletes reside from the state of Texas.

Coming off a 36-win season in 2013, Houston Baseball, under fourth-year head coach Todd Whitting, will look to a strong returning class to lead the way into a successful 2014 year. The Cougars return every position starter from a year ago and gain two valuable pieces back in seniors Casey Grayson and Jacob Lueneburg as the duo missed the 2013 season due to injury.

As returners, Houston will look to senior shortstop Frankie Ratcliff and sophomore third baseman Justin Montemayor to lead the charge as both are coming off impressive 2013 campaigns being named C-USA Newcomer of the Year and C-USA Freshman of the Year, respectively.

The Cougars put together a record-setting season a year ago that featured the third-best turnaround in the nation as well as its first 30-win season since 2008. The year also produced a strong home record of 23-9 and the team's first appearance in the nation's Top 25 since 2006.

Montemayor led Houston in average (.329), hits (73) and runs scored (42), while Ratcliff paced the Cougars in triples with eight to rank second in the nation, along with 44 RBI to accompany his .300 average. The duo was joined by now sophomore second baseman Josh Vidales, who was a true table setter for the Cougars, tallying a conference-leading 49 walks in the leadoff spot.

Sophomore Kyle Survance returns as a sparkplug for Houston as the speedy outfielder notched a league-best 20 stolen bases in his debut season to help the Cougars to 82 stolen bases to lead C-USA. He returns after a breakout season, which saw him hit .299 and contribute to the scoring effort with 36 runs.

Behind the dish will be senior Caleb Barker, who returns after catching in 57 of the 58 games a year ago and finishing second-best on the team with 43 RBI. He will lead a pitching staff that features depth out of the pen.

Nicholls State is under the direction of fourth-year head coach Seth Thibodaux. The Colonels, out of the Southland Conference, are coming off a 26-29 record during the 2013 campaign, while finishing 9-18 among their league.

Nicholls State will look to returning infielder Tyler Duplantis, as he led the charge with a .330 average and 62 hits during his 55 game appearances. Also returning is outfielder Keith Cormier, who hit .289 with 37 RBI - second-most on the team a year ago.

The Colonels are mixed in that they return eight letterwinners, but lost seven from a year ago. They welcome in 15 newcomers to the program, but just roster three true freshmen.

LHP Taylor Byrd, who returns with a 3.18 ERA and a 5-6 record from a year ago, will lead the pitching staff. He logged 73.2 innings and fanned 72, while walking 43.

Following him will be RHP and Preseason Second Team Southland Conference pitcher Brandon Jackson. Expected to start on Saturday for the Colonels, Jackson is coming of a 3-1 season and a 3.21 ERA in 47.2 innings pitched. Slated to pitch the Sunday finale is LHP Grant Borne, who was 3-0 with a 4.19 ERA and 48 strikeouts through 43.0 innings last season.


  • Houston and Nicholls State will play its 42-44th all-time meeting this weekend.
  • The Cougars own the all-time series, 28-13 and have won nine of the last 11 games.
  • The last meeting fell 26 years ago back on March 20, 1988 in Houston when the Cougars earned a 21-4 win over Nicholls State.

Houston will look to junior RHP Aaron Garza and sophomore Jake Lemoine as the Cougars' 1-2 punch this weekend, while sophomore LHP Jared West should fill in and start Sunday's contest for Houston.

Both Garza and Lemoine are coming off winning seasons a year ago, combining for 12 wins and 31 total appearances.

Friday, February 14
Houston: RHP Aaron Garza (Jr., Galveston, Texas) - 3.88 ERA, 5-5, 67.1 IP, 18 BB, 43 K
Nicholls State: LHP Taylor Byrd (Sr., Petal, Miss.) - 3.18 ERA, 5-6, 73.2 IP, 43 BB, 72 K

Saturday, February 15
Houston: RHP Jake Lemoine (So., Bridge City, Texas) - 3.49 ERA, 7-4, 69.2, 33 BB, 45 K
Nicholls State: RHP Brandon Jackson (Sr., Fort Gibson, Okla.) - 3.21 ERA, 3-1, 47.2 IP, 18 BB, 27 K

Sunday, February 16
Houston: LHP Jared West (So., Frierson, La.) - 7.36 ERA, 0-0, 7.1 IP, 8 BB, 5 K
Nicholls State: LHP Grant Borne (So., Baton Rouge, La.) - 4.19 ERA, 3-0, 43.0 IP, 28 BB, 48 K


Friday, February 14 - FRIDAY FRENZY

  • $1 hot dogs, $2 soda, $3 beer* (21 years or older) EVERY Friday night at Cougar Field


    • Former Houston Baseball letterwinner and current Houston Rockets television broadcaster and loyal Houston Athletics supporter Bill Worrell is expected to throw out the Cougars' ceremonial first pitch on Opening Night.


      • "Like" Houston Cougar Baseball (click here) for a special ticket offer available ONLINE FRIDAY ONLY.
      • Inflatable games for kids & FREE 2014 Houston Cougar Baseball posters & schedule cards

Saturday, February 15 - BALLPARK BINGO

      • Win great prizes by playing Ballpark Bingo!
      • Inflatable games for Kids

Sunday, February 16 - KIDS DAY

      • KidZone & Inflatable Games for Kids
      • Kids Run the Bases post-game
      • Post-Game autographs

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 is also set to host non-conference opponents Michigan (Feb. 21-23) - for the first time since 1998, McNeese State (Feb. 25), 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.

Single-game tickets begin as low as $6 for youth and $8 for adults in general admission seating (Level 200) and as low as $8 for youth and $10 for adults in reserved seating (Level 100).

Premium games for the Cougars will include the Baylor midweek game (Tues., March 11), the Rice midweek game (Tues., March 25) and the Louisville weekend series (April 11-13). Premium games begin as low as $7 for youth and $10 for adults in general admission seating (Level 200) and as low as $12 for youth and $15 for adults in reserved seating (Level 100).

By visiting UHCougars.com, clicking the Tickets link, and then Purchase Tickets, while following the appropriate links to the Baseball page or by clicking here, fans can begin purchasing tickets for single games at Cougar Field this season.

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.

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).

To purchase, visit the Tickets tab, Purchase Tickets, while following the appropriate links to the Baseball page under Season Tickets or by clicking here.

For questions or concerns, call or visit the Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or 877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275).

KIDS (8th grade & younger) with CAMP T-SHIRT GET IN FREE
Kids who show up to Cougar Field in a UH Baseball Camp T-Shirt and are in the eighth grade or younger will receive FREE ADMISSION to any Houston Baseball home game.

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.

Following the weekend series, Houston will return to action, but won't stray far from Cougar Field when it travels across Hwy. 288 to take on Rice at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19.  The Cougars will then return home to host Michigan in a three-game set at Cougar Field. The series will take place on Feb. 21-23. Game times are slated for 6:30 pm (Friday), 6:30 pm (Saturday) and 11:30 am (Sunday).



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