Hot bats put UH baseball one win from AAC tournament championship
UH baseball finds itself one win away from reaching the American Athletic Conference tournament championship after defeating Memphis 8-7 in walk-off fashion on Thursday evening in Clearwater, Florida to improve to 2-0 in the tournament.
Tied 7-7 with the bases loaded and one out, graduate utility player Santiago Garcia was the hero as he walked it off on an RBI single to left.
“Getting in situations like that is fun,” Garcia said about his walk-off. “It’s really just taking a deep breath, taking in the moment and trying to put a good swing on the ball. And whatever happens, happens. The biggest thing is just enjoying the moment and not making it bigger than what it is.”
The Cougars will face the winner of UCF-Memphis, who play on Friday, needing to win one of two possible games on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s championship.
After UH starter Jaycob Deese opened up the game with a 1-2-3 inning, junior centerfielder Brandon Uhse wasted no time announcing his presence, launching the first pitch he saw over the left-center wall to lead off the bottom of the first.
Sophomore third baseman Alex Lopez followed with a double to set up an absolute no-doubt home run from sophomore catcher Anthony Tulimero to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead before Memphis recorded a single out in the game.
Uhse followed his first inning homer with a double in the second. Uhse came around to score to extend the lead to 4-0.
Memphis cut the deficit in half, plating a pair of runs in the fourth and knocking Deese out of the game.
The Cougars quickly got those two runs back as Uhse opened the bottom of the fourth with a single, followed by a Lopez double to set the tables for RBI’s No. 3 and 4 for Tulimaro on a double to left-center.
The fifth inning turned disastrous for UH as Memphis sent 11 men to the plate, scoring four runs on five hits to tie the game at 6-6.
Memphis DH Jacob Compton gave the Tigers their first lead of the evening in the sixth, launching a moonshot to right off of UH junior right-hander Maddux Miller.
UH responded in the bottom of the seventh as freshman second baseman Brandon Burckel, who led off the with a single, scored on a Memphis throwing error after Uhse singled to center.
Burckel once again sparked things for UH in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff single followed by stealing second to get into scoring position with no outs in the inning. Burckel advanced to third on a sacrifice fly and scored the winning run two batters later on Garcia’s single.
“They’re never out of it,” said UH baseball head coach Todd Whitting. “They never quit and that’s how you win championships.”
Junior southpaw Jose Torrealba, who pitched three shutout innings in the Cougars’ win on Tuesday, came out of the bullpen and threw a scoreless eighth and ninth to earn the victory.