Bracket Critical: Houston Holds Off New Mexico 6-5

Ashford Fulmer hit a two-run triple in the seventh inning. Photocourtesy University of Houston Athletics

Ashford Fulmer hit a two-run triple in the seventh inning. Photo courtesy University of Houston Athletics

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Junior outfielder Ashford Fulmer hit a two-out triple to right field with runners on the corners in the seventh inning to give the Houston Cougars (15-7) a 5-3 lead and the Cougars would go on to the 6-5 win over the New Mexico Lobos (11-8) to open their bracket critical series at Lobo Field on Friday night.

The 6’1” 190-pound native of Cypress, Texas went 2-for-4 on the night with a walk and a run scored as the Cougars pounded out 14 hits against Lobos’ pitching. Houston’s pitchers would allow 11 hits of their own as the pitching duel never shaped up on a cool night out west.

Survance Sets Stage

Pre-season All American Kyle Survance (Jr., OF) was the leading Houston hitter on the night with a 3-for-5 effort at the dish. The junior led-off the game with an infield single that would lead to a bases loaded jam to start against New Mexico ace Toller Boardman (Jr., LHP). The crafty lefty would strand the bases juiced and thwart the Cougars attempt at a first inning lead.

However, Survance came up with runners on second and third with one out in the second and slapped a single through the right side that scored two for the early 2-0 lead. The outfielder would finish with three hits on the night to pace the Houston hit parade in the win.

First To Pay The Toll

Boardman entered the match-up at 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA and the only thing that dropped was his record on the season as he took his first loss. Out of the gate the junior was in a dog-fight, giving up eight hits in the first three innings yet he only surrendered two runs. As he settled in, he began scattering Cougars’ hits until the seventh when Chris Iriart (Jr., INF) led-off with a double and would score on Boardman’s throwing error on a sac bunt laid down by Jacob Campbell (Jr.) to tie the game at three.

After Boardman surrendered a two-out walk to Ian Rice (Jr., C) later in the seventh, Fulmer struck with the go-ahead, two-run triple to take the lead for Houston at 5-3. Boardman allowed four runs, two earned, on 11 hits and two walks while striking out two in the loss.

Lantrip Good Enough

Houston hoped for a solid start out of starter Andrew Lantrip (So., RHP) and got quality that was enough for the Friday night gun to improve to 5-1 on the year. The sophomore no-hit the Lobos going into the third when he surrendered a lead-off single to freshman Hayden Schilling who would score as sophomore Lane Milligan drove a single to center to cut Houston’s lead to 2-1.

The righty would escape a bases loaded jam unscathed in the fourth before physical Lobos hitter Chris DeVito popped a double to left to start the fifth frame. Freshman Carl Stajduhar would drive him in with a double to the gap in right before eventually scoring on a Lantrip wild pitch to take a 3-2 lead for New Mexico. Lantrip finished with three earned runs allowed on nine hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Chris Iriarts solo homer (6) in the eighth proved to be the difference. Photo courtesy University of Houston Athletics

Chris Iriart’s solo homer (6) in the eighth proved to be the difference. Photo courtesy University of Houston Athletics

Dueces Wild

Surprisingly, nine hitters tallied at least two hits on the night, led by Survance’s three hits. New Mexico hitters DeVito, Stajduhar, Schilling and Dalton Bowers (Jr.) each had two hits on the night. Houston had six hitters with deuces to go along with Survance’s game-high of three. Fulmer’s game-changing triple was one of two hits while Iriart hit an eighth-inning solo shot (6) for an insurance run as one of his two hits. Rice had a pair of hits while junior Josh Vidales added a deuce himself to round out the two-hit, hitters.

You’re Saying There’s A Chance

After Houston reliever Patrick Weigel (Jr., RHP) surrendered a pair of one-out walks to start the ninth, Cougars head coach Todd Whitting handed the game to starter-turned closer Aaron Garza (Sr., RHP) who got Cory Voss (Fr.) to ground into a fielder’s choice for the second out.

Garza then gave up a seeing-eye single to Stajduhar that scored Milligan before walking sophomore pinch-hitter Jack Zoellner to load the bases. Bowers hit an infield single that scored Voss to cut the Cougars lead to 6-5. Garza then induced Schilling into a groundout two pitches later to holster his second save on the season.

Houston looks to clinch the series when the teams square off on Saturday at 4:00 PM ET. The Cougars haven’t named a starter in place of junior righty Jake Lemoine (1-1, 4.50) to take the hill against New Mexico’s freshman right-hander Tyler Stevens (1-0, 2.61).

About the Author

Mark West
Mark West grew up playing and loving baseball. In college, he found an interest in writing and reporting on sports. He graduated from Arkansas State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Radio and Television Broadcasting with a News emphasis and a minor in Political Science. Mark can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @MarkWestCBC Mark began writing a few years ago informally about politics and sports on various blogs, but has focused primarily on baseball writing for the last two years. He loves Arkansas State Red Wolves baseball and writes about the games and the players for the Red Wolves and the Sun Belt Conference. Mark is a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, giving him official votes in the Dick Howser Trophy, Regional Players of the Year, and NCBWA All-America voting. Follow on Twitter @MarkWestCBC