Bryant University and the University of Houston, two teams with ERAs below 3.00, predictably turned in a tight pitcher’s contest Friday night at the Baton Rouge regional.
It took seven pitchers and 10 innings before Justin Montemayor’s sacrifce fly in the bottom of the 10th lifted Houston to a 3-2 win.
The Cougars were outhit 10-4, and all of their runs were unearned. But all that mattered was the final score.
“That’s kind of how we’ve played all year,” Houston coach Todd Whitting said. “We just grind things out with outstanding pitching, sometimes from the starters and sometimes the bullpen. Tonight’s game was no different than a lot of games we’ve played this year.”
Ashford Fulmer drew a walk from reliever Kyle Wilcox (3-3) to start the bottom of the 10th. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, took third on a passed ball and scored when Montemayor lifted a fly ball to left.
“I realized (Wilcox) was throwing a lot of fastballs,” Montemayor said. “I just sat on fastball, and tried to get a pitch I could hit to the outfield.”
Bryant had tied the score at 2 in the top of the ninth when it appeared Houston was ready to close out the game. After Tom Gavitt stroked a two-out single to left, pinch runner Matt Albanese took second on a wild pitch. He scored on John Mullen’s grounder up the middle.
“I was disappointed in the outcome,” Bryant coach Steve Owens said. “I thought we had a chance, once we got through that last inning, to keep playing a while. We came up a little short.”
Tyler Ford (9-0), the fourth Houston pitcher of the game, pitched the 10th inning to get the win. Ford entered with no outs and a runner on first, and retired three of the four batters he faced.
Bryant (42-15) faces Southeastern Louisiana, an 8-4 loser to LSU, in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Saturday. Houston (45-15) and LSU square off at 7 p.m.
A team that knocked off Arkansas in the first round of NCAA regional play last season, Bryant showed it was ready to play from the start. Carl Anderson and Jordan Mountford started the first inning with singles to right. Anderson scored on A.J. Zarozny’s single to left. Houston got out of the inning with the help of a double-play ball.
The Bulldogs came back in the top of the third to chase UH starter Andrew Lantrip when Dan Cellucci and Anderson led off with singles. Bryant was unable to capitalize as Jared Robinson came on in relief.
Houston tied the score with two outs in the bottom of the third. Kyle Survance walked and eventually took third after a wild pitch and a catchers‘ interference. He came home on a passed ball.
The Cougars took advantage of another catcher’s interference call to load the bases in the bottom of the fifth. Pyeatt’s one-out grounder to third was nullified by the call, but Casey Grayson grounded into a double play keeping the game tied.
Houston pushed across a run for a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Montemayor led with a double to center, and took third on Taylor Cobb’s sacrifice bunt. Pitcher Kevin McAvoy misplayed the ball allowing Cobb to reach first. Montemayor scored when Frankie Ratcliff hit into a double play.