3/2/2014 12:19 A.M. ET
Rice tops TCU with mix of defense, pitching
By Richard Dean / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- In the best defensive contest of the six games played through Saturday at the Houston College Classic, Rice got the best of TCU, 1-0, at Minute Maid Park.
Pitching figured prominently into the result, as Rice starter Blake Fox (3-0) silenced the Horned Frogs for six innings. Owls reliever Zech Lemond got the crucial outs in the end, getting a three-inning save.
"He's a believer," Rice coach Wayne Graham said of Lemond, who allowed only one hit. "He believes he's going to get out of anything he gets into."
Lemond helped the Owls (7-4) preserve their lead in the eighth inning. TCU's Boomer White, who had singled in his first three at-bats, came up with two runners on base. The right-handed Lemond got White to pop up to catcher John Clay Reeves to end the threat. Reeves also doubled and was hit by a pitch.
"No pressure, no dominance," Lemond said. "If you can't enjoy the pressure when you're out there, how can you enjoy playing baseball?"
Charlie Warren scored the game's lone run on Reeves' sacrifice fly in the sixth inning off TCU (6-4) starter Preston Morrison (1-1). In eight innings, Morrison allowed only five hits with five strikeouts and a walk. The left-handed Fox allowed five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
"He's a solid guy," Graham said. "We figure he's going to get us into the seventh inning, not usually with a shutout."
The two-hour, nine-minute game featured five double plays (three by TCU) and no errors. Rice left fielder Michael Aquino threw out a runner at home plate to end the top of the third. In the eighth, Lemond threw out a runner at the plate for the second out.
Longhorns edge Cougars to hand Houston first loss
HOUSTON -- The Houston Cougars didn't go down easily in losing for the first time in nine games. The Cougars had runners at first and second, down by a run in the top of the ninth, when Texas shortstop C.J. Hinojosa made a leaping catch a liner for the final out, preserving the Longhorns' 3-2 win on Saturday.
Hinojosa, who robbed Josh Vidales of a game-tying hit, stopped the Cougars' rally. The Cougars closed to within a run in the ninth inning, but couldn't overcome four errors in the first three innings.
"The game is never over when you play us," Houston coach Todd Whitting said. "I'm proud the way they battled late. We had to make a lot of moves at the end and everybody we put in the game did their job."
Hinojosa' ninth-inning catch delivered the win for Texas starter Parker French (2-1). Nathan Thornhill, who relieved John Curtiss in the ninth, only faced Vidales to get his second save.
Houston took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Landon Appling's infield single, scoring Casey Grayson, who had two hits and led off the second with a deep double to left-center. Texas scored a run in the second inning and two in the third off hard-luck Houston starter Jake Lemoine (1-1), who allowed only one earned run and three hits in seven innings.
Houston out-hit Texas 9-4, with Hinojosa getting two hits. But the Longhorns made the plays they needed, and took advantage of the Cougars' lapses in the field.
Texas (8-3) is 2-0 in the Houston College Classic and meets Sam Houston State, who is the only other 2-0 team, on Sunday at 10:05 a.m. CT in the final day of the six-team, nine-game classic.
Texas coach Augie Garrido said winning Friday and Saturday was huge, especially handing Houston its first loss.
"It's very big," said Garrido. "Anytime you can win, especially against an opponent like this that's been playing well, and their teams is well structured, they're a good-looking team.
"It's important that every win we get, and the closer they are like this, is more important because it's relating to mental toughness, which is what we've been preaching."
In the Houston ninth, pinch-runner Cole Coakley scored on Jacob Lueneburg's fielder's choice off Curtiss.
French scattered seven hits in seven innings, allowing one run and one walk. The junior right-hander struck out seven and got 10 outs on grounders.
"He was probably as good as he's ever been," said Garrido. "He's got that slider now that gives him another weapon and it keeps them more off balance when he threw sinker after sinker. And he's mixing in the changeup."
Bearkats belt three homers to pick up second win
HOUSTON -- Sam Houston State isn't intimidated by the competition in the Houston College Classic. The Bearkats won their second game in as many days in the three-day tournament, with another offensive onslaught against a Big 12 team.
On Saturday, the Bearkats pounded three home runs, two by Ryan O'Hearn, in beating Texas Tech, 10-6, at Minute Maid Park. On Friday, Sam Houston routed TCU, 9-4.
"Our kids really feel like they belong in the tournament with these teams," Bearkats coach David Pierce said. "And that's what they're doing. They're coming out here and doing what they've been doing. That's why we've had success in the tournament.
"What we're trying to create is a culture that we feel we can play with anybody in the country. The bottom line is we're good baseball players."
Southland Conference member Sam Houston (10-1), which has played in the last two NCAA Regionals, amassed 15 hits against the Red Raiders (8-3), who have lost two straight games after entering the tournament on an eight-game win streak. Jake Barrios and Ryan Long had two hits each for Tech.
Hayden Simerly smoked a ball to right field for a home run in Sam Houston's five-run second inning that gave the Bearkats a 6-2 lead. Simerly, leadoff hitter Colt Atwood and Anthony Azar had three hits apiece for the Bearkats.
"There's not one guy in our lineup that you can pitch around," said Sam Houston left fielder Luke Plucheck, whose diving catch in left field on Friday made ESPN SportCenter's second-best play of the day. Plucheck made another diving catch on Friday, robbing Hunter Redman of a hit leading off the last of the eighth.
O'Hearn had four RBIs, with a sacrifice fly to the right-field warning track. His first-inning solo homer went to left field and his two-run home run in the sixth inning went to right field.
"It was a lot of fun, especially being here in this big stadium, and to help my team," O'Hearn said. "We're glad to have a good showing."
Neither starting pitcher made it out of the third inning. Sam Odom (2-0) got the win in relief of Andrew Godail, and Texas Tech starter Matt Withrow (1-1) took the loss.
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.