Complete-Game Effort Stifles Memphis in 3-1 Loss to #19 Houston
March 29, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Houston (22-5, 4-0 C-USA) pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon stifled Memphis (14-12, 1-3 C-USA) with a complete-game effort in a 3-1 decision at FedExPark, Friday, in game one of the Conference USA series.
Two walks and a wild pitch staked Houston a scoring opportunity in the first inning. Memphis starter Sam Moll walked the leadoff man, but the baserunner was retired at second on a fielder’s choice. The second walk of the inning moved runners to first and second with one out, but a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third. Justin Montemayor grounded out to first, but Caleb Barker scored, giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
Moll stranded a runner at third to end the inning after a groundout to shortstop. Memphis registered back-to-back singles in the bottom half of the first inning with one out. Poncedeleon struck out the next Tiger hitter and a quick throw to third on the steal attempt completed the double play to end the inning.
Houston threatened to increase the lead in the third after a leadoff single by Ashford Fulmer. The Cougars moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt and a groundout advanced him to third with two outs in the inning. But Moll got out of the jam with a groundout to first.
The Tigers started their half of the frame with Drew Griffin reaching on catcher’s interference. A successful sacrifice bunt had the runner in scoring position with one out, but Poncedeleon got two-straight outs to end the inning.
The Cougars broke it open in the fifth, scoring a pair of runs to take a 3-0 lead. A leadoff single followed by a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases with no outs in the inning. Kyle Kirk lifted a sacrifice fly to right to make the score 2-0. With one out and runners on the corners, Barker singled through the right side to plate the Cougars’ third run, but Moll came back to strikeout the next hitter. He finished the frame with a groundout to keep Memphis within striking distance.
Memphis mustered little offense after the two hits in the first, as Poncedeleon sat down 22-of-24 to have a chance at the shutout. He struck out eight and walked none and threw 10 pitches to get to the eighth inning.
Zach Willis broke a streak of nine-straight retired by Poncedelon, starting the ninth with a single up the middle. After a flyout, Tubbs singled to third base, and an errant throw allowed Willis to move to third base. Bryce Beeler hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to make the score 3-1, but Poncedelon forced the final out, erasing the Tigers’ rally attempt.
Moll finished the game with six innings pitched, allowing three runs, all earned, on four hits, while striking out eight. It was the second quality start in the last three games for a Memphis starter in a losing effort. Heith Hatfield pitched three perfect innings in relief.
Memphis and No. 19 Houston play game two of the three-game series, Saturday, at 2 p.m.