Wallingford Leads Tigers Past No 15 Houston, 2-1
March 28, 2014
HOUSTON – Memphis starter Caleb Wallingford allowed four hits over seven scoreless innings and the Tigers held off a ninth inning rally by No. 15 Houston to take the series opener 2-1 at Cougar Field on Friday.
An error and hit batter led to the Tigers (16-9, 2-2 American) grabbing an early 1-0 lead against a pitching staff that leads the nation in earned run average. Zach Willis reached on an error to start the game and Ethan Gross was hit by a pitch to put two on with no outs. Jake Little executed the sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position. Tucker Tubbs drove in the run with a RBI groundout and the Tigers led 1-0.
The Tigers added a run in the sixth to make it 2-0. A leadoff single by Drew Griffin got the Tigers going and Gross added a one-out single through the right side to put runners on the corners with one out. Little lifted a fly ball to center and the sacrifice fly drove in Griffin to make it 2-0.
Wallingford (4-1) scattered four hits over seven innings and walked two keeping the Cougars to just three runners in scoring position over the seven innings. In the second, Wallingford allowed a one-out single and the runner advanced on a stolen base, but the junior lefty stranded the runner there. Later, in the fifth, a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt put a runner in scoring position, but Wallingford again escaped the jam. Wallingford’s biggest struggle came in the seventh as the Cougars got a one-out single and a walk. Griffin stabbed a line out at third for the second out and Wallingford recorded his sixth strikeout to end the frame.
In the ninth, Houston (20-5, 0-1 American) used a leadoff walk to begin a rally. After a single put runners on the corners with no outs, the Tigers summoned Bryce Beeler to the mound. Beeler struck out the first hitter he faced before a fielder’s choice allowed one run to score. With a runner on first and two outs, Beeler closed the door with a groundout to first to complete his sixth save of the season.
Five hits were scattered throughout the Tigers lineup and Little and Tucker Tubbs picked up the RBI for the U of M. With the win, Memphis improves to 3-0 against ranked opponents this season and has won 11 of the last 14 overall against ranked foes.
Memphis and Houston meet for game two of the series on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.