CLEARWATER, Fla. - No. 12 Houston Baseball never let up as it went on to win its first conference tournament title under head coach Todd Whitting in a 10-4 American Championship Baseball triumph of No. 5 Louisville at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. on Sunday afternoon.
The Cougars improved their record to 44-15 on the year and 3-1 in this week’s tournament, while Louisville fell to 45-15.
The conference title was the first for Houston since 2008, receiving the American Athletic Conference’s automatic bid to an NCAA Regional, set to be announced at 11 a.m. CT Monday on ESPNU.
Houston had four American Baseball Championship All-Tournament Team members, which included OF Kyle Survance, 1B Casey Grayson, RHP Andrew Lantrip and 2B Josh Vidales.
For his career day and week, Vidales was named Most Outstanding Player.
Houston put together a 16-hit, 10-run day, led by a career-best 5-for-5 day by sophomore Josh Vidales, who went on to drive in three RBI in the win. He was accompanied by a two-hit, four-RBI day by senior Casey Grayson.
Senior Landon Appling continued his hot playing with a three-hit day with a run scored, while sophomore Kyle Survance was 2-for-4 with three runs and two walks and sophomore Justin Montemayor was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Adding a hit in the winning effort was senior Frankie Ratcliff (1x4) and sophomore Ashford Fulmer (1x3, 2 R).
Senior Tyler Ford (4.1,2,2,2,1,3) was dynamic in relief, as usual, going 4.1 innings, allowing just two hits, both homeruns, while allowing one walk. The lefty struck out three to improve to an incredible 8-0 on the season.
Junior starter David Longville (4.2,9,2,1,0,1) did what he does best and keeps the ball on the ground and helped the Houston defense turn three, inning-ending double plays, while allowing just one earned run on nine hits and no walks with a strikeout in 4.2 innings.
Houston took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI-groundout by Barker after Survance and Appling both reached on consecutive singles, while moving up a base on a wild pitch.
Louisville then answered back in the latter half of the frame when the first three hitters reach base, scoring on a sacrifice fly. Longville, though, was able to induce a flyout and lineout to end the threat and keep the score knotted at 1-1.
The Cougars were able to scratch across another run in the third after Survance and Appling reached consecutively for the second time today followed by a Grayson walked that set up a bases-loaded, no-out situation that allowed Barker to hit into a double play, but score Survance for the second run of the game.
Another run crossed for the Cougars in the fourth on an RBI-single by Vidales, plating Montemayor, who doubled to open the frame and took third on a wild pitch. The Cougars had a chance to break it open with bases loaded and just one out in the inning, but a strikeout and hard liner ends the frame and strands three.
Vidales comes through with another RBI-single to put Houston up 4-1 in the fifth, scoring Hollis, who singled.
Louisville matched the Cougars in that inning with a run of its own on an RBI-infield single to make it 4-2. Longville handed the ball over to Ford to face the American Player of the Year in Jeff Gardner and records the big strikeout to send Houston back to bat.
Houston put together a huge three-run sixth on two hits, which included a two-run double by Grayson to add to its lead, making it 7-2.
The scoring didn’t let up when Houston added three in the ninth to pad its lead, going ahead 10-2. Montemayor opened the inning with a hit-by-pitch and was followed up by two base hits off the bat of Ratcliff and Vidales, while Grayson came around with two outs to plate two more on his second hit of the day.
Ahead 10-2, Louisville hit two solo homeruns in the ninth to make it 10-4, but Ford was able to close it out for the win.