‘Wild’ ending allows UH to earn 18th win

In a flurry of singles, errors, stolen bases and a double, the College of Charleston tied UH 3-3 in the top of the ninth. Then, they promptly lost 3-2.

The double from Charleston’s first baseman Carl Wise was sufficient to tie the game until the intricate rules of baseball saved UH from going to extra innings, or worse yet, a fifth loss on the season on Saturday at Cougar Field. Instead, the sequence of events that led to UH’s 18th win reads like a highway patrolman’s report of an accident on I-45.

Wise doubled, sending right-hander Blake Butler around third to home plate, with UH junior left fielder Michael Pyeatt relaying the ball back to third. It was pointed out to UH freshman third baseman Jordan Stading that Butler did not make contact with the third-base bag. Third base umpire Darin Heard was made aware, via the protests of the UH dugout. Stading reclaimed the ball, tagging third and forcing an out.

As Heard reversed the call and signaled that Butler was out, UH fans saw their players and coaches spill up the steps and onto the field while the College of Charleston coaches and players, suddenly torn after seemingly tying the game, had thousand-yard stares as they exited the field.

“That was a wild one there,” said UH head coach Todd Whitting. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game end like that. That team over there in the other dugout is a really good team. That’s as good an offensive team as I’ve seen in a long time. There are no easy outs over there.”

The two teams tied at eight hits apiece, but UH was able make better use of them. Senior first baseman Casey Grayson had a pair of RBI doubles, which paced the UH offense and prompted Whitting to say that Grayson may have had the best game of his UH career.

“It might be,” said Grayson of Whitting’s statement. “I’ve been struggling a little bit swinging, but I came out a little bit today. I feel great, excited to be back out there, and hopefully, I can stay out there for the rest of the year.”

While lost amid the game’s dramatic finale, Whitting gleaned something in the way that only baseball lifers seemingly can.

“A big play of the game that’s something not many people will probably talk about  is (junior infielder) Cole Coakley busting it down to first base to beat out an infield single, and the next guy up is Grayson to drive him in with a double,” Whitting said.

The effort that Coakley put in to reach first earned him his first hit wearing a UH uniform.

UH’s biggest strength of the season so far — its pitching — continued to be its most effective tool, even against an aggressive offensive team like Charleston.  Sophomore right-hander Jake Lemoine earned his fourth win of the season and maintained his sub-1.15 ERA.

“Going into the game, I knew they were going to be aggressive at the plate,” Lemoine said. “They like to swing the bat, so all I was trying to do was pound the zone and get them to ground out or fly out to my defense.”

Lemoine, who was hitless through five innings, credited the effectiveness of his slider with helping him work longer into the game to give the recently taxed bullpen. After being pulled in the top of sixth, his 2-0 lead was held in place by lefty Tyler Ford and righty Chase Wellbrock, both seniors.

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