UH baseball takes two of three against AAC first-place Tulane
UH baseball made a statement over the weekend at Schroeder Park, taking two out of three against Tulane, who entered the weekend atop the American Athletic Conference standings, to improve to 23-13 overall and 5-4 in conference play.
Taking the series against the conference’s top team is a huge step towards the Cougars’ goal of winning the AAC crown in the eyes of UH baseball head coach Todd Whitting.
“It puts a right in the mix to win the conference championship, which is obviously the goal,” Whitting said. “I thought our kids played really really well all weekend.”
The Cougars opened up the weekend with a 6-3 victory over Tulane.
The UH bats got to Green Wave ace Grant Siegel, who entered the night with at 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA over 42 innings pitched.
After opening the scoring on a double steal in the bottom of the first, UH put up a crooked number in the second to take a 4-1 lead.
With a runner on third, sophomore left fielder Samuel Benjamin doubled down the right field line to drive in one. A few batters later, junior DH Brandon Uhse stepped up to the plate with runners on second and third and delivered a single up the middle to drive in both Cougars.
Uhse added to his big night in the fifth, launching an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for his sixth home run of the season. UH plated one more run in the inning, extending the lead to 6-2.
Junior Jaycob Deese got the start on the bump for the Cougars and tossed seven innings, allowing two runs to earn his third victory of the year.
The Cougars nearly doubled Siegel’s earned run total, putting five earned runs on the 6-foot-1-inch right-hander who had only allowed six all season entering Thursday night.
Uhse stayed red hot at the plate with two more home runs on Friday night but it was not enough to overcome 11 Green Wave runs, as Tulane evened the series with an 11-10 victory.
Down 2-1 in the third, Uhse launched his first long ball of the night, a two-run shot to left, to put the Cougars in front.
Tulane scored two runs to retake the lead but once again Uhse had an answer for the Cougars, going yard for the second time with a solo shot to left to even things up.
Junior shortstop Ian McMillan hit a two-run home run of his own in the sixth followed by an RBI single from sophomore right fielder Alex Lopez to put UH up 7-4.
Nathan Medrano, a 6-foot junior right-hander, entered in relief in the seventh and struggled mightily. The Green Wave bats got to Medrano, putting three runs on the board in both the seventh and eighth innings highlighted by back-to-back home runs from Brady Hebert and Ethan Groff to give Tulane a 10-7 lead.
The Cougars weren’t done yet, scoring three runs of their own in the bottom half of the eighth on a wild pitch followed by a two-run single from sophomore catcher Anthony Tulimero.
UH closer Ben Sears came out of the bullpen to pitch the ninth and gave up a leadoff double. While the 6-foot-5-inch junior right-hander did not allow another hit in the frame, the leadoff double ended up haunting him as Tulane was able to drive in what proved to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly to left after the runner advanced to third on a ground out the at-bat before.
Tulane’s Zach Devito closed the door, pitching a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth with two strikeouts to even up the series.
Sears was charged with his first loss of the year.
UH used a nine run fifth inning, all that came with two outs, to take Saturday’s rubber match 10-9 to secure the series victory.
Groff started the game off with a bang for the Green Wave, launching a no-doubt leadoff home run to left. A few batters later, Tulane’s Brady Marget hit a two-run bomb of his own to put the Green Wave up 3-0 after the first half inning.
Tulane increased its lead to 4-0 in the fourth before UH freshman left fielder Cameron Nickens got the Cougars on the board with an RBI double.
With two on and two outs in the bottom of the fifth, the UH bats exploded to put up nine runs.
Sophomore third baseman Zach Arnold got things started for the Cougars with a two-run double followed by a Lopez RBI single, a bases-clearing double off the bat of senior first baseman Ryan Hernandez and an RBI single from sophomore center fielder Samuel Tormos.
McMillan put an exclamation point on the huge inning with a two-run moonshot over the left field wall and onto Elgin Street.
Tulane clawed back, cutting the deficit to just a single run in the eighth.
Sears, who entered the game in the sixth for his third appearance of the series, closed the door, getting the final 10 outs for the Cougars to secure the series and earn his seventh save of the season.
Junior right-hander Logan Clayton, who took the mound in relief in the fourth and threw 1 and 1/3 scoreless innings, got the win for UH.