3/1/2014 12:37 A.M. ET
Houston routs Texas Tech in College Classic
Cougars' Garza twirls gem at Minute Maid Park in tournament's opener
By Richard Dean / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Houston may not be nationally ranked, but the Cougars remain unbeaten.
Behind 8 2/3 innings from Aaron Garza and an eight-run seventh inning, Houston routed Texas Tech, 9-0, on Friday in the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros.
"People are going to start opening their eyes to us," said Houston designated hitter Jacob Lueneburg, who had three hits, including a bases-clearing double. "The 8-0 start is good, but that's behind us. Whatever happens in the rankings happens."
Houston's big seventh inning included Ashford Fulmer's two-run homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field that ended the scoring.
The Cougars, their 8-0 start their best since 1993, and Red Raiders opened the prestigious college tournament. The three-day event, which concludes on Sunday, also includes Rice, Texas, TCU and Sam Houston State.
"To win 9-0, that's a pretty good start," said Houston coach Todd Whitting. "It was well played for a long time. I was pleased with my ballclub's effort and the way they came out ready to play.
"We'll take wins against anybody. Texas Tech is a really good team. They have a chance of being a postseason team. I'm just happy to get a win in this tournament. It's important to get off to a good start."
The loss snapped Texas Tech's (8-2) eight-game winning streak. Red Raiders starter Dominic Moreno allowed only one run in five innings, but fell to 0-2.
Garza (3-0) allowed six hits and no walks with seven strikeouts. The right-hander threw 115 pitches. Tyler Ford came in to secure the last out for the Cougars' fifth shutout.
"You just want to go out there and give it everything you have," said Garza, who hit two batters in the first three innings. "You want to compete, whether it's 1-0 or 10-0. We want to go out there and get the guy out. That's our mindset. They hit a double, so what. Next pitch, we're going to get you out.
"It worked out great. We're ready to keep going."
Kyle Survance, Frankie Ratcliff and Casey Grayson each had two hits for the Cougars, who outhit the Red Raiders 10-6.
Texas tops Rice behind Peters' gem
HOUSTON -- Dillon Peters made it look easy on the mound for Texas. Longhorns closer Nathan Thornhill put some excitement in the game, giving Rice life in its final at-bat.
Thornhill, who relieved Peters to start the top of the ninth inning, struck out pinch-hitter Blake Fox with the bases loaded to end the game and preserve the Longhorns' 2-0 win over the Owls (6-4) on Friday at Minute Maid Park.
"Nathan was trying to get [the win] for himself." Texas coach Augie Garrido said jokingly.
Peters was sharp. In 106 pitches, the left-hander threw eight scoreless innings, allowing no walks and four hits with six strikeouts.
"I just kept them off balance from the get-go," said Peters. "I mixed a lot of different pitches in a lot of different counts. It seemed to be effective so I went with it."
Thornhill wasn't as effective. He retired his first two batters before allowing singles to Michael Aquino and John Clay Reeves. Thornhill then walked pinch hitter Connor Teykl. But Thornhill got Fox looking on a 1-2 count for the final out and his first save.
Texas (7-3) scored its runs in the fourth inning off Chase McDowell (0-1), who replaced Rice starter Jordan Stephens, who left after pitching two scoreless innings, allowing one hit. Consecutive doubles by Tres Barrera and Ben Johnson scored Kacy Clemens and Barrera.
Rice's biggest threat came in the fourth inning. Shane Hoelscher and Skylar Ewing opened with singles. Cleanup hitter Aquino fouled off the third strike attempting to sacrifice for the first out. Peters (1-0) followed by striking out Reeves and Leon Byrd.
"I knew I needed to punch somebody to line up that double-play ball," said Peters. "That guy didn't get the bunt down so I felt pretty comfortable and tried to get a ground ball and ended up punching [out] some guys."
Kevin McCanna pitched four scoreless innings in relief for Rice, which was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Sam Houston knocks off TCU
HOUSTON -- Sam Houston State's Tyler Eppler came into Friday's game with TCU as the less heralded of the starting pitchers. He made an impression on TCU.
Eppler (2-1) pitched six shutout innings in a 9-4 win in the second game of the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park. The right-hander limited the Horned Frogs to six singles as the Bearkats improved to 9-1. TCU starter Brandon Finnegan, who is No. 21 on MLB.com's Top 50 Draft Prospects, had not allowed a run in 14 innings. On Friday, the left-hander allowed five runs and eight hits in 6 2/3. Finnegan (2-1) struck out 11 with two walks. Sam Houston scored three runs on wild pitches, two off Finnegan.
"He had some good stuff," said Sam Houston's Jake MacWilliam, who homered and had three RBIs on his two hits. "I've never seen anybody with a slider like that.
"When he's locating it, he's good, but he left some balls up, some pitches to hit. We took advantage of that."
Carter Burgess had three of Sam Houston's 12 hits. The Bearkats scored three times in the fourth inning, and two runs in each of the final three innings while building a 9-0 lead.
TCU (6-3), which also had 12 hits, scored all its runs in the ninth, with three coming on 6-foot-5, 245-pound Kevin Cron's home run to left field. Keaton Jones had three hits for TCU, which is ranked 16th nationally.
On Tuesday, unranked Sam Houston won, 3-1, at 10th-ranked Rice.
"That extra competition, we go out and prove to everybody," said Eppler, who got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. "Do what we practice every day, and that's what we did."
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.