No. 28 Houston Baseball won its sixth straight game and improved to 17-4 with an impressive 4-3 win over Texas on Tuesday evening at Cougar Field in front of a season-high crowd of 2,342.
With the win, the Cougars also improved to 11-2 at home, while Texas fell to 12-8 this season.
Houston pitching was phenomenal in the win as sophomore starter Aaron Garza (5.1,6,3,0,2,6) fanned a career-high six Longhorns en route to his third win this season – improving to 3-0. The Galveston, Texas native didn’t allow an earned run in 5.1 innings pitched, scattering just six hits and two walks.
Junior reliever Chase Wellbrock (3.2,1,3,0,1,1) was equally impressive, earning his second save of the year after tossing 3.2 innings, while surrendering just one hit and onewalk with his one strikeout.
Houston hitters tallied eight hits, led by freshman Jacob Campbell’s two base knocks and run scored. Freshman Kyle Survance (1x4, R, 2 RBI) drove in two of Houston’s four runs on a sharp single that went past a diving first baseman in the second inning.
Driving in runs were freshman Josh Vidales (1x5, RBI) and junior Frankie Ratcliff (1x3, R, RBI, BB). Vidales’ RBI-single in the second inning extended his on-base streak to 15 straight games.
Also contributing with hits in the winning effort were freshman Kyle Kirk (1x4, R, BB), freshman JustinMontemayor (1x4) and sophomore Michael Pyeatt (1x3, BB).
Houston jumped on the Longhorns in the second inning with three runs. With one out, the Cougars continued to do what they do best, driving in runners in scoring position.
Campbell opened the frame with a one-out single, moved to second a double down the right field line off the bat of Ratcliff – allowing Survance to drive them both in on his sharp single through the right side to put Houston up 2-0.
Two outs and a runner at second, Vidales extended his hit streak to nine games with his single to left field, plating the speedy Survance to extend Houston’s lead by three runs.
A key fifth-inning run came on a bases loaded walk by Ratcliff, his 20th of the year for Houston to go up 4-0. Kirk led off the inning with a base hit, the only leadoff to reach base this evening for the Cougars. With two outs, Longhorn pitching walked three in a row, including Ratcliff’s RBI-base on balls.
That run proved critical as Texas went on to plate three in the top half of the sixth – all runs would end up unearned as Houston allowed Texas to score on a leadoff error. The Longhorns only recorded one hit in the frame, while being issued three walks.
The defensive play of the night came with the tying run at third and two outs, Texas’ four-hole hitter tried to drop a bunt down, but Kirk continued his excellent play fielding bunts to throw the runner out at home to hold Houston’s 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Cougar pitching and defense was solid, keeping Texas off the scoreboard as the Longhorns stranded sevenincluding two in the third. Garza and Wellbrock combined to retire three straight hitters in four of the nine innings.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH TODD WHITTING
Thoughts on the game
“It was a great environment out here tonight. The thing I was really excited about was the amount of red in the stands. We had a tremendous Houston Cougar crowd out here. In a game where we scuffled a little bit, the crowd really helped us out tonight. Aaron Garza was outstanding - he was absolutely phenomenal tonight. He got a little tired towards the end, but Chase Wellbrock came in to slam the door. It was a really gutsy effort by those guys. The position play of the game tonight was Kyle Kirk fielding those three bunts. Those were outstanding bunts, and one of them was with the tying run on third base, and he threw the guy out at the plate. Tonight we had great attitude, effort, and energy from the team, and came away with the win.”
On getting the win with young players
“When the game was on the line tonight, we stepped up. The plays that (Frankie) Ratcliff made, the plays that (Kyle) Kirk made those made the game. As long as we throw strikes, and let our defense play we’re going to have a lot of success. For a young team, they are resilient, and they never give in. We bent as much as we possibly couldtonight, but we never broke.”
HOUSTON STARTING PITCHER AARON GARZA
On your performance tonight
“First of all, the energy from the crowd tonight really gave us a lot of adrenaline. Tonight I was just mixing up the speeds and locations was the key for me today.”
On the defense behind you
“You have to have a lot of confidence in your defense. We preach all the time to have confidence in your team. If we make an error, ‘So what’, the next play is going to come to you, and you have to be ready for it. It’s easy when you have a catcher like (Caleb) Barker who isn’t afraid to drop, and block for you. It’s good to have those kinds of guys behind you.”
HOUSTON RHP CHASE WELLBROCK
Thoughts on the game tonight
“We definitely played lights out tonight. First thing is giving credit to our defense. Our defense played outstanding tonight with guys like Kyle Kirk, Josh Vidales, Frankie Ratcliff, Justin Montemayor, and our entire outfield. We, as a team, played outstanding tonight.”
On Kyle Kirk throwing out a runner at home
“That was the play of the game. He did it three different times tonight. We expect that kind of play from Kyle Kirk, but it’s awesome to see it.”