Missed Opportunities Come Back to Haunt Tigers in 8-6 Loss at Houston
April 18, 2010
HOUSTON, Texas -
Memphis (16-20; 6-6 C-USA) 010 021 002 - 6 11 3 Houston (16-18; 4-5 C-USA) 100 204 01x - 8 12 1
Memphis failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities early and Houston scored four runs in the sixth inning to hand the Tigers a 8-6 defeat in game three of the Conference USA series on Sunday afternoon at Cougar Field. Houston claims the series 2-1 and improves to 16-18 overall, 4-5 in league play. Memphis drops its second-straight conference series and falls to 16-20, 6-6 in C-USA.
The Tiger had their chances to break the rubber game open in each of the first four innings, but were never able to come through with the clutch hit. They left seven of eight runners stranded, standing in scoring position in the four frames. The U of M left the bases loaded in first, left a runner on third in the second and two in scoring position in the third and fourth stanzas. Memphis left 10 of 12 runners in scoring position on Sunday afternoon.
Memphis squandered it scoring chance in the opening inning, but Houston wasted little time breaking through the scoring column with a two-out rally in the first. Joel Ansley collected a single and scored from first on a double off the bat of M.P. Cokinos.
Phillip Chapman was the catalyst to the Tiger's first scoring inning as he worked a walk to lead off the second. Adam McClain followed with a single and Derrick Thomas effectively executed the sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Drew Martinez's groundball scored Chapman for Memphis' first run of the day.
The Cougars broke a 1-1 tie with a pair of runs in the fourth. Codey Morehouse tagged a leadoff double and advanced to third on a sac bunt by Zak Presley. After Travis Trial was issued a walk, Morehouse scored the go-ahead run on a sac bunt by Caleb Ramsey. Trial moved to second and later made it 3-1 on an RBI-single by Blake Kelso.
Chapman may have kept the Tigers alive in the top of the fifth inning. With the threat of rain quickly approaching and Memphis down by two runs, Trey Wiedman singled and the junior backstop followed him by belting a towering two-run drive over the leftfield wall to tie the game at 3-3. Holland then retired the Cougars in order and the rains came, prompting the two hour, 18 minute rain delay.
The Tigers quickly got going after the rain delay with Thomas working a leadoff walk and Martinez pushed him to second with a sacrifice bunt. The freshman advanced to third on a single by Chad Zurcher. With runners on the corners, Zurcher got caught in a rundown between first and second. He baited several throws, giving Thomas enough time to make a break for home. Thomas was able to slide safely ahead of the throw to give Memphis a 4-3 lead.
However, that lead was short-lived as Houston used a pair of Tigers errors to respond with a four-spot in the home half of the sixth. Presley led off with a single and miscommunication on a sac bunt by pinch hitter Ryan Still resulted in runners on first and third for the Cougars. Ramsey then struck again, banging a run-scoring double to left. On the play, an errant throw in attempt to cut Ramsey down at second sailed wide and Still came around to score as UH regained the lead, 5-4. Kelso lined an RBI-single up the middle and Cokinos tripled two batters later to give the Cougars a three-run cushion.
Doubles by Tyler Huelsing and Wiedman propelled a two-run ninth as the Tigers rallied. Wiedman's second double of the day, scored Huelsing and Adam McClain singled up the middle to bring Wiedman home to make it 8-6 with runners on the first and third. With two out, Memphis brought the go-ahead run to the plate, but was unable to complete the comeback attempt.
Memphis out-hit Houston in each of the first two games of the series, but it was the UH offense that won the battle at the plate in the series finale. Tyler Huelsing and Wiedman legged out a pair of doubles to lead the Tiger's 11-hit offensive. Wiedman was 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI on the day. Martinez, Huelsing and McClain finished the game with two hits.
Ryan Holland gave Memphis a quality start, scattering six hit in five innings before the rains fell. Relief pitcher Heith Hatfield was the loser and falls to 3-3 on the year after being touched for four runs on three hits. He started the sixth inning, but was unable to record an out before being lifted in favor of Chase Joiner. James Conlee improved to 1-0 for Houston after surrendering a run on two hits in two innings. Morehouse induced the game's final out to pick up his first save of the year.
The Tiger will return home for the next five games, beginning on Wed., Apr. 21 when they host Arkansas State. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at FedExPark.