PREVIEW: Baseball Travels to Face USC, UCLA, Pepperdine

March 6, 2014

HOUSTON – Set to make its first road trip of the season away from the city, Houston Baseball will head west to play three games over the weekend against USC (Friday at 8 p.m. CT-Los Angeles, Calif.), No. 9 UCLA (Saturday at 4 p.m. CT-Los Angeles, Calif.) and Pepperdine (Sunday at 1 p.m. CT-Malibu, Calif.).

The three-game weekend is known as the ‘Dodgertown Classic’.

FRIDAY, MARCH 7 at USC (8 p.m. CT) – Los Angeles, Calif.
Listen Live: (UHCougars.com) | GAMEDAY CENTRAL | Watch Live: Pac-12 Network

SATURDAY, MARCH 8 at No. 9 UCLA (4 p.m. CT) – Los Angeles, Calif.
Listen Live: (UHCougars.com) | GAMEDAY CENTRAL | Watch Live: Pac-12 Network

SUNDAY, MARCH 9 at Pepperdine (1 p.m. CT) – Malibu, Calif.
Listen Live: (UHCougars.com) | GAMEDAY CENTRAL

Houston enters the weekend with a 9-2 overall record and a 1-0 mark on the road. The Cougars are coming off their best offensive outing of the year after tallying 17 hits en route to a 10-0 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Wednesday. In that game, senior Frankie Ratcliff racked up a 6-for-6 night at the plate, notching a new program record with six hits in a single game.

After his six-hit night, Ratcliff leads the team in average with a .364 clip and RBI with seven. Senior teammate Casey Grayson follows with a .333 clip and five RBI, while sophomore Kyle Survance is hitting .295. As a team, the Cougars are hitting .267.

Houston is led by its stellar pitching staff that leads the nation with an 0.73 ERA and six shutouts in 11 games to lead the nation in both categories. The staff has allowed just eight earned runs in 98.0 innings, accompanied by its 81 strikeouts and just 12 walks – holding opponents to a .175 clip.

Junior weekend starter Aaron Garza is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in 22.0 innings. He was just honored as the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week – the third straight weekly pitching honor for the Cougars this season as well as being tabbed the Houston College Classic Most Valuable Player (MVP).

He is joined by starters Jake Lemoine (1-1) and Jared West (1-0) with wins, while the bullpen has been exceptional, led by senior Tyler Ford (0.00 ERA, 10.0 IP, 1-0) and senior closer Chase Wellbrock (0.00 ERA, 3 saves, 7.1 IP, 9 K). Wellbrock begins the weekend with 15 career saves and is just one save away from tying the Houston all-time saves record at 16, set by Ryan Wagner back in 2002-03.

USC, a member of the Pac 12 Conference and is 8-3 on the year, coming off a 6-4 loss to UC-Irvine on Tuesday. The Trojans opened the year with seven straight wins, which included weekend sweeps of Northwestern and North Dakota State and a midweek win over Cal State Fullerton. The only three losses have come against Long Beach State, Cal Poly and UC-Irvine.

USC is hitting .295 as a team, led by two .400+ hitters in Jake Hernandez (.486) and Jeff Paschke (.400). Leading the way with eight RBI are Kevin Swick (.396) and Dante Flores (.262). The team has recorded 71 strikeouts to its 37 walks, while swiping 10-of-16 bags. The defense is solid with an impressive .991 fielding percentage on just four errors.

The Trojan pitching staff owns a staff ERA of 2.42 and has held its opponents to a .227 average through 11 games, posting 82 strikeouts and 48 walks. LHP Bob Wheatley (0.47, 19 IP, 17 K) and RHP James Guillen (2.35, 7.2 IP, 2 K) both have two wins. Houston will face LHP Kyle Twomey, who is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts. He has logged 10.0 innings and recorded 10 strikeouts and three walks.


  • Two teams will meet for the 12th time in school history.
  • USC owns the series at 7-4 through the first 11 meetings.
  • The 11 meetings came between the years of 1978 and 2002.
  • Houston and USC have not met since 2002 with the Cougars earning a 9-4 win at the Lone Star Classic in Round Rock, Texas.
  • Last time Houston played at Dedeaux Field on the campus of USC was March 10-12, 2000 with the Cougars sweeping the weekend series.

No. 9 UCLA is coming off winning the 2013 National Championship and currently holds a record of 7-5 this season. The Bruins enter the weekend, having dropped a 6-1 midweek contest to Loyola Marymount after sweeping its weekend with wins over Notre Dame, NC State and Michigan in Cary, N.C.

UCLA is hitting .238 as a team, led by Shane Zeile’s .359 average. Trent Chatterton paces the team with eight RBI, while Zeile has seven RBI to his name for second-most on the team.

The Bruins’ pitching staff is the backbone of their team, owning a 2.62 ERA, led by two wins from RHP James Kaprielian (0.90 ERA, 2-1, 20.0 IP, 27 K) and LHP Grant Watson (2.37 ERA, 2-1, 19.0 IP, 18 K). All-American closer RHP David Berg (2.08 ERA, 1-0, 13.0 IP, 10 K) leads the team with three saves.

Houston is scheduled to face Watson on Saturday afternoon.


  • Houston and UCLA will meet for just the second time in program history on Saturday.
  • The lone previous contest came in a 7-6 win for Houston at the Aztec Invitational at PETCO Park in San Diego on March 14, 2004.
  • The Cougars have never played at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

Pepperdine, a member of the West Coast Conference, located in Malibu, Calif., is 9-3 this season and is coming off a 2-1 win over UNC Wilmington Tuesday after splitting a series out in Hawai’i.

Pepperdine is hitting .289 on the year, led by Aaron Barnett’s .426 clip and Brandon Caurso’s .370 average. Aaron Brown is hitting .354 with a team-leading 13 RBI and .563 slugging percentage.

The Waves pitching staff owns a 2.45 ERA with LHP Aaron Brown (4.12 ERA, 2-0, 19.2 IP, 23 K), RHP Jackson McClelland (4.32 ERA, 2-1, 16.2 IP, 7 K) and RHP Eric Karch (0.00 ERA, 2-0, 9.2 IP, 11 K) with two wins apiece.

Brown is slated to start against Houston on Sunday.


  • Houston and Pepperdine have met four previous time, making Sunday’s contest the fifth time these two programs have faced off on the diamond.
  • The series is halted at 2-2, but the two teams have not met since 2005.
  • The Cougars and Waves met once in 2003 with Houston winning and in a three-game set in 2005 with Pepperdine taking the final two games for the series win after the Cougars earned the series-opener.

Friday, March 7
Houston: RHP Aaron Garza (Jr., Galveston, Texas) – 0.41 ERA, 3-0, 22.0, 2 BB, 18 K
USC: LHP Kyle Twomey (So., Placentia, Calif.) – 4.50 ERA, 0-0, 10.0 IP, 3 BB, 10 K

Saturday, March 8
Houston: RHP Jake Lemoine (So., Bridge City, Texas) – 0.42, 1-1, 21.2, 3 BB, 18 K
UCLA: LHP Grant Watson (Jr., Bakersfield, Calif.) – 2.37 ERA, 2-1, 19.0 IP, 5 BB, 18 K

Sunday, March 9
Houston: LHP Jared West (So., Frierson, La.) – 1.69 ERA, 1-0, 16.0 IP, 1 BB, 11 K
Pepperdine: LHP Aaron Brown (Jr., Chatsworth, Calif.) – 4.12 ERA, 2-0, 19.2 IP, 5 BB, 23 K

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 home to begin a 13-game homestand when it welcomes Baylor to Cougar Field Tuesday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. Baylor-Houston is the first Premium Game at Cougar Field.

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 purchase tickets for to this game at Cougar Field.



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