As the clock ticked down on Sunday in Orlando with a time rule in effect for travel plans, Houston used their final inning at-bat to reverse a two-run deficit and win 12-9 against UCF to take their fifth conference series of the season.
The Knights jumped out to an early 3-0 in the bottom of the first innings thanks in some measure to the gusty breezes blowing around Orlando.
Trailing by three in the top of the second inning, catcher Anthony Tulimero led off the inning with a single . . . One out later, Malachi Lott doubled to left-center field to get Houston on the board.
Drew Bianco singled to lead off the top of the third inning and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch before moving to third base on a ground out to third by Brandon Uhse . . . Zach Arnold delivered a one out RBI single to left field to plate Bianco and make it 3-2 . . . Alex Lopez was walked to put runners at first and second base . . . Tulimero then grounded to third base with what looked to be a double play ball, but the throw from second base to first base was wide, allowing Tulimero to reach base while Arnold crossed home plate as the tying run.
In the top of the fourth inning, a Thomas Lyssy infield single put him at first base with one out . . . Ian McMillan then drove a ball the opposite way over the right field wall for a two-run home run and a 5-3 Houston lead.
Houston starter Cade Citelli did not benefit from the wild winds in Orlando on Sunday, but he gutted out a tough start and took the game into the fourth inning before being relieved by Dan Wright . . . Wright completed two important innings and allowed just one run, three of his six recorded outs were by strikeout.
With the game tied at five in the top of the fifth inning, Murray reached first base on a one-out walk . . . Lyssy singled into right field to move Murray over to third base . . . A failed pick-off attempt of Lyssy at first base saw Lyssy get into a rundown between first and second base, but he delayed being tagged long enough to allow Murray to steal home with the go-ahead run, and Lyssy reached second base safely after the ball was dropped by the Knights first baseman after he had seemingly applied the tag . . . Houston took the 6-5 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning.
Murray worked a walk to lead off the top of the seventh inning and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch . . . Cameron Nickens pinch-hit for Malachi Lott and dropped a single into right-center field to drive Murray home and cut the UCF lead by a run to 9-7.
Still trailing by two runs in the top of the eighth inning, the Cougars offense went back to work . . . Arnold led off with a single and Lopez followed that with a walk . . . Murray was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out . . . Nickens singled to left field to drive in two runs to tie the game at nine, his second hit in as many innings to with three runs drive in.
Lyssy followed with a monster blast to right field, a three-run shot and the Cougars took a 12-9 lead . . . The home run was Lyssy’s third hit of the game in a 3-for-5 day, it was also the freshman’s first in a Houston uniform.
The four-hour game ended after the bottom of the eight inning due to time constraints after Murray struck out what would have been the tying run at the plate with two Knights runners on base . . . Murray pitched the final three innings for Houston and earned the win to improve to 3-0 this season.
Head Coach Todd Whitting was quick with praise for Lyssy after the game on Sunday.
“It is great to see Lyssy doing the most with his opportunity,” Whitting said. “He has been a huge bat for us in the last few weeks.”
“Proud of the boys grinding out a tough weekend against a very good UCF team,” Whitting added.
The comeback win gave Houston its fifth conference series win of the eight they will play this season . . . This was the third conference road series win and the second straight weekend with a conference series win on the road . . . The Cougars finish April with a record of 12-6.
The Cougars (25-19, 10-5) return to action on Wednesday when they will play Rice at Reckling Park in game two of the Silver Glove Series . . . Houston leads the Silver Glove Series 1-0 and can take home the trophy for another year with a win on Wednesday or the following week against Rice, also at Reckling Park, on May 10 . . . Rice was swept at home this weekend by Dallas Baptist . . . First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm on Wednesday.