PREVIEW: Baseball on the Road at Cincinnati
April 24, 2014
HOUSTON - Looking to improve on its 7-2 away record this season, No. 12 Houston Baseball will hit the road for three road games at Cincinnati in American Athletic Conference play, beginning Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT. The series will continue on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT and conclude on Sunday at 11 a.m. CT.
QUICK HITS ON HOUSTON
Houston has won seven of its eight weekend series this season - with series wins in league play over Rutgers, Memphis and USF and its only series loss coming to Louisville.
The Cougars are set to play the next four games on the road and the last 10 of 15 away from Cougar Field beginning with the trip to Cincinnati this weekend.
Houston enters the weekend series with the nation's best ERA and the only NCAA Division I program with an ERA below 2.00 at 1.94. The Cougar pitching staff also holds the a WHIP of 0.97 to lead the nation and has walked a conference-low 71 to accompany its 253 strikeouts and .215 opponent batting average.
Weekend starters Aaron Garza (6-3, 1.75 ERA) and Jake Lemoine (5-3, 1.70 ERA) pace the rotation with a combined 11 wins with Garza leading the squad in innings pitched with 72.0 and Lemoine, a recent selection on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, in strikeouts with 58.
Out of the pen, Houston has continued to ride the arms of Chase Wellbrock , who was recently named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List (3-0, 8 V, 0.70 ERA) and Tyler Ford (4-0, 2 V, 0.91) this season as the duo has combined for 31 appearances.
Offensively, Houston is hitting .268 with 11 homeruns and 169 RBI for a slugging percentage of .341. Senior Casey Grayson is red hot - hitting .326 on the year and .348 in conference play. Grayson leads the team in RBI with 25 and is tied for the team lead in hits with sophomore Kyle Survance at 47. Junior Michael Pyeatt follows with a .323 average, while Survance is hitting .299 with a team-high 21 stolen bases from the leadoff spot.
Sophomore Josh Vidales leads the team with 28 runs scored and combines with Grayson for a total of 55 walks in the two-three holes in the lineup.
As a team, Houston has tallied 183 walks and has stolen 58-of-73 bases - with Survance and senior Frankie Ratcliff leading the way with 21 and 14, respectively.
QUICK HITS ON CINCINNATI
Cincinnati was swept at Rutgers last weekend and dropped two of three at home vs. UConn the week before. As a team, the Bearcats are hitting .251 - led by preseason All-Conference honoree Ian Happ at .341 with a team-leading 43 hits and 23 RBI. Following Happ is Will Drake with a .328 clip and Matt Williams with a .323 mark.
The Bearcats have tallied 145 RBI and eight homeruns, while walking 135 times to their 240 strikeouts. On the field, Cincinnati has committed 59 errors for a fielding percentage of .959.
The pitching staff owns an ERA of 4.14 with 15 wins and five saves. Five Bearcats have made at least five starts this season with Ryan Atkinson (4-3, 3.59 ERA), Connor Walsh (3-6, 3.60 ERA) and Andrew Zellner (2-3, 5.50 ERA) all recording a team-high seven starts.
Cincinnati will start RHP Matt Ring (3.38 ERA, 1-2), Walsh on Friday and Saturday with Sunday slated as TBA.
Out of the pen, the Bearcats rely on Colton Cleary (0-1, 2.81 ERA, 3 SV) and Bryan Chenoweth (0-0, 2.10 ERA, 2 SV) as the duo has combined for all of Cincinnati's five saves.
The staff has walked 138 hitters and fanned 180 - allowing a .258 average against the arms.
HOUSTON vs. CINCINNATI
PROBABLE PITCHING ROTATION
Cincinnati: RHP Matt Ring (Jr., Muncie, Ind.) - 3.38 ERA, 1-2, 24.0 IP, 9 BB, 10 K
Saturday, April 26
Sunday, April 27