PREVIEW: Baseball Set for Super Showdown in Austin

June 5, 2014


HOUSTONA Super Regional showdown is in store as No. 5 Houston Baseball meets No. 9 Texas in the Austin Super Regional for a best-of-three weekend series, beginning Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., televised live on ESPN2.

Houston enters the weekend series with a record of 48-16 and is coming off a Baton Rouge Regional Championship that saw the Cougars come from a game behind to win two straight to capture the title over the overall No. 8 national seed in LSU at Alex Box Stadium.

The back-to-back wins on the road at The Box marked the first time since 2000 a Houston program had accomplished that feat.

Texas will enter the series with a record of 41-19 and is coming off a Regional Championship last weekend in Houston with wins over Rice and Texas A&M at Reckling Park.

Location: Austin, Texas
Venue: UFCU Disch-Falk Field (7,600)

NCAA Bracket – Super Regionals

Game 1: ESPN2  |  WATCHESPN  |  Listen Live w/ Jeremy Branham on UHCougars.com
Game 2: ESPN  |  WATCHESPN  |  Listen Live w/ Jeremy Branham on UHCougars.com
Game 3: ESPN  |  Listen Live w/ Jeremy Branham on UHCougars.com (if necessary)

Dari Nowkhah – play-by-play
Danny Kannell - analyst
Kaylee Hartung - reporter

Join Houston fans all weekend long as Official UHAA (Houston Alumni Association) Watch Parties are set to take place at Lucky's Pub in The Heights for every Houston Baseball Super Regional game.

Watch parties will begin two hours before first pitch on each game day for the Cougars, beginning with Friday's game (3 p.m. first pitch - 1 p.m. watch party start).

What: UHAA Official Watch Parties
When: 3 p.m., Friday • 1 p.m., Saturday • 1 p.m., Sunday (if necessary)

Check UHCougars.com and the Houston Baseball Facebook page for an updated watch party schedule as the Cougars look to advance to the NCAA College World Series for the first time since 1967.

The UHAA will gather in parking lot 115 (which is located behind the softball field – see attached map) 1.5 hours prior to the start of the game. Encourage people to look for the large UH flag. We will provide non-alcoholic drinks and a snack. People are welcome to bring additional food and drink if they would like.

For all the information (tailgate, watch party, ticket) you need regarding the Austin Super Regional from an Alumni Association side, visit their official website www.houstonalumni.com/baseball.

With win No. 48 this season captured, the Cougars have tied the program-record of 48 wins in a single season, coming twice in program history (2002, 2000).

2014’s Super Regional appearance will be just the fourth in program history and first since 2003.

Houston will hit the field Friday with a pitching staff that ranks sixth in the nation with a 2.30 ERA, compiling 48 wins and 17 saves. In 572.0 innings, the Cougars have walked just 114 hitters, while striking out 417.

The backbone of the Houston staff has been the work of its bullpen, which includes seniors Chase Wellbrock and Tyler Ford on the back end.

Wellbrock leads the team with 12 saves, accompanying his 5-0 record and 1.22 ERA. In 44.1 innings, the right-hander has fanned 35 and walked just five in 22 appearances.

Ford may have produced one of the most impressive relief seasons in program history as the lefty owns a lofty 9-0 record and a 1.22 ERA with four saves in a team-leading 26 appearances. The lefty has fanned 47 and walked just five in 66.1 innings, while holding opponents to a mere .188 average.

Joining the Wellbrock-Ford duo out of the pen and coming off a career eight-strikeout night with his win over LSU in the Regional Championship game is junior Jared Robinson. The righty is 5-1 with a 1.42 ERA in 22 appearances and 44.1 innings.

Houston has produced one of the nation’s best starting rotations this season as the four in sophomore Jake Lemoine (2.65 ERA, 6-7), junior Aaron Garza (9-4, 2.67 ERA), junior David Longville (2.88 ERA, 1-0) and freshman Andrew Lantrip (6-0, 1.67 ERA).

Lemoine paces all Cougars with 85 strikeouts in 102.0 innings, while Garza has tallied nine wins, two complete games and has logged 104.1 innings.

Offensively, Houston is hitting .278 as a team and has 295 RBI and 338 runs scored through 64 games played. Three Cougars pace the offense with a .300+ average, led by senior Casey Grayson’s .325 clip, team-leading 16 doubles, 48 RBI and 50 walks.

He is followed by sophomore Kyle Survance, who was tabbed the Baton Rouge Most Outstanding Player last weekend, hitting .320 on the season with a team-leading 53 runs scored, 78 hits and 31-of-38 on the base paths.

Freshman Connor Hollis is hitting .310, while sophomore Justin Montemayor sits at .299.

The Cougars are 85-of-111 in stolen bases and following Survance with a multi-stolen base season thus far is senior Frankie Ratcliff (17-21) with 17, sophomore Ashford Fulmer (12-15) with 12 and sophomore Josh Vidales (11-14) with 11.

Houston will continue play on Friday after having won 12 of its last 15 games as nine have come away from home.

Texas will play with a record of 41-19 and a 21-10 mark at Disch-Falk Field in Austin. The Longhorns have won nine of their last 15 games, including two wins over Texas A&M and a win over Rice in the Houston Regional last weekend.

Texas is built around its pitching staff as the Longhorns own a 2.36 ERA with 16 saves and 41 wins in 537.1 innings this season. The staff has fanned 349, while walking 207 – holding opponents to a .227 average.

Houston will likely see RHP Nathan Thornhill (7-2, 1.49 ERA) and RHP Parker French (5-5, 2.62 ERA) this weekend. Thornhill paces the team with 90.2 innings tossed, while French follows at 89.1 and a team-best 59 strikeouts.

Out of the pen, Texas relies on five arms that have made 20 or more appearances, led by LHP Travis Duke’s 25 and 0.36 ERA through 25.0 total innings. RHP John Curtiss paces the squad with eight saves in 23 appearances, holding a record of 2-2 and a 2.23 ERA.

Offensively, Texas is hitting .267 as a team, led by Mark Payton’s .318 average, 36 RBI, 69 hits, 15 doubles and 53 walks. He is followed by C.J. Hinojasa’s .293 average and 12 doubles.

The Longhorns draw a lot of walks with 266 on the year to its 316 strikeouts, while stealing 72-of-85 bases, led by Ben Johnson – who is a perfect 20-for-20 on the path.

Texas will make its ninth Super Regional appearance and first since 2011.

Neither team has announced its starting rotation.

Houston and Texas have met 134 previous times in the program’s history with the Longhorns owning a 92-31-2 mark over the Cougars.

The two teams met once this season with Texas edging Houston 3-2 on March 1 at Minute Maid Park in the Houston College Classic.

Houston’s last trip to Austin fell in a 4-0 loss on April 23, 2013 where the two teams split the 2013 series, each winning at their respective home fields.

Houston and Texas met back in the Austin Super Regional in 2002 where the Longhorns rebounded two win the final two games after falling 2-0 in Game 1 … eventually going on to win the College World Series with current Houston pitching coach Frank Anderson on staff.

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.

The winner of this best-of-three series will advance to the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning June 14 at T.D. Ameritrade Park.



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