Junior Chase McDonald
March 23, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas - Austin Pruitt struck out a career-high 13 batters helping Houston (20-4, 2-0) to a 4-3 series clinching win over East Carolina (11-12, 0-2) Saturday night at Cougar Field in Conference USA action.
Pruitt (5-1) came three outs short of his third complete game of the season working eight full frames where he allowed three runs (all earned) on eight hits. The right-hander recorded at least one strikeout in seven of eight innings and struck out the side in the second and fifth. Chase Wellbrock notched his third save of the season recording the final two outs in the ninth after relieving Tyler Ford with runners on the corners and one out.
Ryan Williams (4-1) suffered his first loss of the year allowing four runs (all earned) on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts in 6.1 innings. Jake Harris appeared in his 12th game working a scoreless 1.2 frames with a pair of walks and punch-outs.
The Cougars scored a pair of runs in the third thanks to an RBI single by Kyle Kirk and an RBI triple from Justin Montemayor. Landon Appling singled to left field to start the frame and took third on Josh Vidales sac bunt to third, where nobody was covering the hot corner. Kirk followed with a single up the middle plating Appling for the first run before taking second on Caleb Barker's ground out to third. Montemayor stepped to the dish and laced the fourth triple of the series for Houston down the right field line scoring Kirk easily.
Chase McDonald belted his second homer of the season, 10th of his career, to lead off the top of the fifth pulling ECU within one, 2-1.
Houston scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to extend its lead to 4-1. Appling and Vidales drew consecutive walks off of Williams. Kirk reached on a fielder's choice bunt, where Luke Lowery threw the third base trying to get the lead runner, but the throw was late loading the bases for the Cougars. All three runners moved up 90 feet on a passed ball with Appling crossing home. With two outs and first base open, Williams intentionally walked Montemayor to load the bases again before Michael Pyeatt reached on a fielder's choice RBI that scored Vildales.
The Pirates scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to pull within one, 4-3. Jack Reinheimer, Dylan Brown and Jay Cannon roped consecutive singles to load the bases for Ben Fultz, who reached on a fielder's choice pushing across Reinheimer. With runners on the corners and one out, McDonald lifted a sac fly down the right field line scoring Brown. Drew Reynolds stepped to the plate with Fultz on first and two outs, but ended the game when he swung an missed on a Wellbrock pitch low and inside.
Three Pirates recorded multiple hits on the night in Brown, Cannon and Reinheimer. With his single down the right field line to start the second inning, Cannon extended his current hitting streak to 12 games. McDonald finished the game with a pair of RBI pushing his team lead to 16.
ECU will look to salvage the series and avoid being swept when it squares off against Houston in game three of the C-USA series. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. (ET).