Tigers Shutout No. 19 Houston 1-0 to Salvage Game in Series
March 31, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - -
Zach Willis hit a two-out RBI single in the third and two pitchers combined for the shutout as Memphis (15-13, 2-4 C-USA) salvaged a game in the three-game series with No. 19 Houston (23-6, 5-1 C-USA) in a 1-0 victory, Sunday, in game two of the doubleheader at FedExPark.
Memphis wasted a first inning opportunity to take the lead as the first two batters reached via walks. Tucker Tubbs hit a laser to third base, but the catch was made and the third baseman doubled up the runner at second. Bryce Beeler singled to left field and Ethan Gross moved to third on the hit-and-run, but Houston starter Jake Lemoine escaped the jam with a groundout up the middle. The Tigers mustered back-to-back two out singles to threaten to score in the second. Lemoine again escaped trouble with a pop out to shortstop, sending the game to the third inning, 0-0.
Houston started the third with a leadoff walk and single to put the pressure on the Tigers' defense. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third with one away. Memphis southpaw Alex Gunn threw a pitch inside that got by the catcher Nate Rupiper, but Rupiper picked it up in time to flip it back to Gunn at the plate for the second out, denying the Cougars' the run. Gunn then forced a lineout to shortstop to strand the potential go-ahead run at third.
Memphis then got on the board when Ethan Gross hit a leadoff single through the right side and Tucker Tubbs worked a walk to get two runners on to start the third. A balk advanced the runners to second and third, but reliever Tyler Ford struck out the next batter. Rupiper laid down a bunt on the suicide squeeze play, but Houston got the out at the plate. With runners on the corners and two outs, Zach Willis gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with a single through the right side, but Memphis couldn't add to the lead, stranding the bases full in the inning.
The Cougars put together a two-out rally of their own in the fourth, but Gunn eventually worked out of the jam. Justin Montemayor doubled down the third base line for the first extra-base hit in the thee-game series and moved to third on a wild pitch. A two-out walk later put runners on the corners, but Gunn struck out the next batter to enter the fifth inning with four strikeouts.
A one-out error got Houston going in the sixth as they tried to knot the game at 1-1. Memphis went to the bullpen and senior Clayton Gant got a fly out before Montemayor singled to left to put two runners on with two outs. Houston summoned a pinch-hitter, but Gant induced a groundout to end the threat.
Gant worked around a leadoff single in the seventh and Houston had the tying run at third in the inning. Kyle Survance singled to center to start it off and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch moved the potential-tying run to third, but Gant forced a groundout to third for the out, without allowing the run to score. A groundout to short ended the game with Gant picking up his first career save.
Gunn picked up the win as he allowed no runs on three hits in 5.1 innings. He lowered his ERA from 1.52 to 1.29 with his second win of the season and struck out a career-high six batters. Willis and Beeler had a team-high two hits as the Tigers out-hit Houston 7-5 on the game.
The Tiger pitching staff posted its fourth shutout of the season and seventh ever shutout against a ranked opponent in program history. It is the second shutout of a ranked opponent in the last two seasons as Memphis earned a shutout at No. 7 UCF a year ago (1-0).
Memphis continues an 11-game homestand against Ole Miss, Tuesday, at AutoZone Park. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.