HOUSTON -- For the second time in three days the University of Houston baseball team used a suicide squeeze to claim a one-run win in extra innings over Conference USA rival UAB. On Sunday afternoon at Cougar Field, junior Chris Klosterman executed a perfect squeeze bunt with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to score Sam Mitchell from third base and give the Cougars a 4-3 victory over the Blazers.
With the win Houston completed a three-game sweep of the weekend series to remain in sole possession of first place in the conference standings with an 11-1 C-USA record. The Cougars lead both South Florida and Tulane by an identical three-game margin.
Houston used the suicide squeeze to win the first game of the series on Friday night by a score of 1-0 in 12 innings. The Cougars then shutout UAB in game two on Saturday to keep the Blazers scoreless for a total of 21 consecutive innings.
UAB quickly put an end to that streak Sunday. The Blazers scored a run in the top of the first inning after Brandon Holmes was hit by a pitch, advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by Chris George.
Houston answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third when Keith Whatley and Josh Snook both drew walks with the bases loaded and nobody out. UAB however changed pitchers and reliever Ross Dobbins was able to get out of the jam with no more runs scoring. That helped the Blazers retake the lead in the fifth, scoring a two runs on two hits a walk, a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the sixth Houston catcher Chris Snyder blasted his 11th home run of the season to tie the game 3-3. The game then remained deadlocked as both teams failed to convert on scoring opportunities. Houston stranded runners in scoring position in the seventh, ninth and tenth innings. UAB left a man in scoring position in the eighth and twice had the bases loaded without scoring a run. In the seventh UH reliever Nathan Mitchell struck out a pair of UAB hitters that ended the inning and left the bases loaded. In the ninth Bryan Harris worked out of a bases loaded jam by getting a 5-2-3 double play and then fielding a sharply hit ball back to the mound.
Finally in the bottom of the 11th, true freshman Sam Mitchell led off with a double into the leftfield corner and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hyung Cho. To set up a potential double-play UAB elected to walk the next man, UH's sacrifice hit and sacrifice fly leader Sean Allen, in favor of Klosterman who was in the game as a defensive replacement at third base. Klosterman bunted the first pitch up the first base side and Mitchell was able to slide home safely before a tag could be applied.
The Cougars improved to 19-18 overall with their fifth win in the last six games. UAB fell to 17-15 on the year and 3-9 in league play. UH will next face regional rival Texas A&M on Tuesday, April 10, in College Station. First pitch with the Aggies is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Conference USA Baseball Linescore R H E UAB 100 020 000 00 -- 3 10 1 Houston 002 001 000 01 -- 4 8 0 Andre Parks, Ross Dobbins (3), Blake Allen (9) and Brad Bamberg. Gene Flores, Nathan Mitchell (7), Bryan Harris (9) and Chris Snyder. WP - Harris (3-1). LP - Allen (3-2). Save - none. 2B - UAB: Holmes; UH: S.Mitchell, Allen. 3B - none. HR - UAB: none; UH: Snyder (11). Time - 3:31. Att - 645. Team Records - UAB 17-15, 3-9; Houston 19-18, 11-1.