COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Jake Stewart punched a two-out RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth to lift Houston to a 4-3 victory over No. 9 Texas A&M Sunday night in the NCAA College Station Regional before 4,041 fans at Olsen Field.
A one-out walk to Caleb Ramsey followed by a two-out single by Blake Kelso set the stage for Stewart's game-winner. On the mound, Cougar freshman Jared Ray (4-2) picked up the complete-game victory.
The victory forces a second championship game between the schools, with the winner facing Rice in the super regional round next weekend in Houston. Monday's first pitch at Olsen Field is set for 6:30 p.m.
"That was a great game," A&M coach Rob Childress said. "The story of the night wasn't what we didn't do, it was what Jared Ray did. He's a freshman that came out and did an incredible job. They played 20 innings in the heat today and when his team needed it the most, he stepped up."
In a game that was peppered with great defensive plays by both teams, A&M left fielder Brodie Greene kept the contest scoreless in the second. With two outs, the sophomore leapt over the left field fence to rob Bryan Tully of a two-run shot.
UH did get on the board in the next frame, however, thanks to a two-run home run to center by Austin Goolsby.
The score remained the same until the sixth, when A&M would take its only lead of the night.
The Aggies would smash the first three pitches of the frame to plate two and tie the game. Kyle Colligan led off with a double down the left field line. On Ray's next offering, Dane Carter tripled to right center to cut the lead in half. Jose Duran then belted the next pitch into left field for a double to plate Carter.
Three batters later, Darby Brown drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice ground ball to second.
The cougars answered quickly, tying the game in the bottom half of the sixth. Jimmy Cesario led off with a triple off the wall in right center, and came home on an RBI double by the next batter, Ryan Lormand.
Ray and Aggie junior Kyle Thebeau, who tossed three innings of one-hit, shutout relief, kept the game tied until the ninth.
Reliever Travis Starling (8-1) was handed his first loss of the season after entering the 3-3 contest to start the ninth. Starter Clayton Ehlert did not factor in the decision, lasting five-plus and giving up six hits and three earned runs.
Monday's game will be televised by FSN Southwest and FSN Houston, and can be found across the country on DirecTV, Dish Network and FCS Central. The game will also air locally in Bryan/College Station on WTAW-AM 1620.
"We are excited about tomorrow night," Childress said. "What more could you ask for? You get to play in your yard for a chance to win a championship. Our guys played extremely well tonight. They played without fear and without panic and it was just a great ballgame. We pitched extremely well and played very good defense. It was a well-played game, and that's all we ask of our kids tomorrow. It should be a lot of fun."
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES:
• Jose Duran's sixth-inning double was his 100th hit of the season, making him the fourth player in school history to reach the century mark in that category…Duran joins Jason Tyner (three times—107 in 1998, 100 in 1997 and 100 in 1996); Chad Alexander (106 in 1995) and Blake Stouffer (102 in 2007).
• Dane Carter's sixth inning triple was his ninth of the year, tying him with Brian Thomas (1993) for the school's single-season record.
• Texas A&M is now 53-50 all-time in NCAA play and 42-33 in regional action…the Aggies saw a five-game regional win streak snapped.
Cougars force second title game
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