PISCATAWAY,N.J. – No. 10 Houston Baseball played errorless baseball and was backed by gutsy relief pitching to help the Cougars come way with a 2-1 win on the road at Rutgers – clinching the series win in American Athletic Conference play on Sunday.
The win improved Houston’s overall record to 25-6 and 4-2 in league play, while Rutgers fell to 11-16 and 3-5. The Cougars are now 6-2 on the road this season and with Sunday’s victory, now have 25 wins to their name.
What proved to be a pitcher’s duel late fell in favor of the Cougars as senior righty Chase Wellbrock (2.1,3,0,0,0,1,2) out dueled the Rutgers’ bullpen in the latter frames to earn his second win of the year and help Houston to its seventh weekend series victory of 2014.
Wellbrock finished the game, allowing just three hits, no runs, one walk with two keystrikeouts to improve to 2-0.
He backed the efforts of sophomore starter Jared West (2.1,2,0,0,2,1), who managed to go 2.1 innings without allowing a run on just two hits, two walks and one strikeout. He was relieved in the third by senior Tyler Ford (4.1,2,1,1,0,0) who inherited a jam and was able to induce an inning-ending double play to keep Rutgers off the board early. Ford then went on to pitch 4.1 effective innings in relief, helping preserve the Cougars’ lead before allowing a single run by Rutgers in the seventh to tie.
Houston tallied a season-low three hits – but it proved to be just enough as two of the three came with runners in scoring position off the bat of sophomore JustinMontemayor. Montemayor finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBI. Senior Frankie Ratcliff notched the Cougars’ only other hit – a triple – his first of the season and later scored on both of Montemayor’s hits.
It was a pitchers’ duel early as both teams were held without a run until the Cougars pushed the first one across in the fourth after Ratcliff walked andstole second to put him in scoring position for Montemayor – who picked up Houston’s first hit – a single into centerfield.
Nothing offensively was able to brew for the Cougars as Rutgers tied the game in the seventh after a leadoff double, sacrifice bunt and groundout to the right side.
Wellbrock wasn’t fazed by that as he took over for Ford and even after allowing a leadoff double in the eighth and back-to-back hits to open the bottom of the ninth, the senior closer was composed and was able to work around the jams – which was highlighted by a defensive snag by sophomore Josh Vidales covering first on a 5-3 sacrifice bunt that got away from freshman Jordan Stading on the throw.Vidales was able to keep the ball from getting passed him covering first and holding Rutgers at second and third.
Wellbrock intentionally walked Rutgers to set up the bases loaded situation with one out in the ninth and struck out the next hitter looking and then induced a groundout to second base for the win.