Houston Eliminates SLU; to Face LSU in NCAA Final

NCAA Regional Baseball at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field
NCAA Regional Baseball at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field
Chris Parent (@chrisparent)
LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- Houston took advantage of six Southeastern Louisiana errors in the first two innings to take a 7-0 lead before eliminating the Lions and advancing the NCAA Regional final, 9-5, on Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

Houston (46-16) will face LSU at 7:35 p.m. CT. The Cougars must beat the Tigers to force a deciding game in the double-elimination tournament on Monday evening.

Southeastern Louisiana's season came to an end with a 38-25 overall record.

The game was delayed by lightning for 63 minutes in the top of the seventh with Houston leading 7-2.

Houston Head Coach Todd Whitting

Opening Statement…
“First of all, you have to tip your hat to Coach Riser and his bunch.  I want to congratulate them on a great season.  That’s a team right there that plays really hard, and I think that’s a reflection of their head coach.  There are great things to come in that program.  The fans and all involved in that program should be very pleased.  I thought we played well.  I thought we played hard.  We had to match their energy.  They definitely came out with a lot more energy than we did early, but I thought we matched it.  The second inning was big for us.  (Aaron) Garza, I think he’ll tell you he didn’t have his best stuff.  The thing about him is he just competes like crazy.  It’s really a testament to him on a day when we didn’t have great stuff. We were playing against a great hitting team. To go out there and barrel through that thing and just keep pounding away at it, I’m really happy with him.  As far as the nightcap, I’m not sure what we are doing pitching-wise yet.  I’m going to talk to Coach Anderson and the other coaches here in just a minute. We’ll have a plan here in a little bit.”

On his faith in the team’s ability to play well tonight…
“Nothing surprises me with our team.  Just about the time you think they are down and out, they’ll come back and will just keep fighting.  No matter what happens tonight or tomorrow night or how this thing goes the rest of the year, I couldn’t be more proud of this team.  Things just kind of work out for them like it did today.  We will just get out there tonight and see how it goes.”

On the difference the Southeastern Louisiana errors made in the game…
“You never know, but that’s the game of baseball.  You take what the other team gives you.  I thought we did a good job of battling and putting the ball in play.  They did have some miscues in that inning that led to some big errors, but we had a double mixed in there with some RBIs, so we had some good at-bats mixed in with a few errors.  When the other team kicks it around, it definitely helps you.  There’s no doubt about that.”

On using last night’s game to prepare for tonight’s game with LSU…
“They had a great crowd out here last night.  No matter how you prepare for it, it’s tough.  We have one player on our team that has regional experience.  One player that has been to the NCAA Tournament.  Playing in that environment, hopefully they got that out of the way.  I thought we played well last night, LSU just played better.  When that happens, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.  I think they’ll come out hungry.  Our back’s against the wall.  We are back in the corner.  We’ve got to play a lot of baseball to win this thing, but it would not surprise me if we did well tonight and tomorrow as well.”

On regaining control out of the weather delay…
“I think it was huge.  Coming out of that weather delay…we had one a couple of weeks ago, too.  I always like to be at-bat when we come out of those things because then you can get a feel of being back in the game again as opposed to being on the other side with our backs against the wall.  It was huge. That two-run triple down the right field line by Landon Appling (in the 8th inning) ended up being a huge play for us.”

University of Houston pitcher Aaron Garza

On his outing against Southeastern…
“Southeastern is a really good hitting team. They were hitting the fastballs a lot of the time. I had to dig down deep and really mix up my pitches. I had to throw the change-up in there with some conviction. I had to get Southeastern to hit into some double plays for us. That is what was working today.”

On getting a seven run lead early…
“You still have to go out there and pitch like it is a one-run game. I believe I did that. I let some pitches get away from me in the third inning and that did hurt me. I had a pep talk from my coaches and team. I just battled after that. I competed the best that I could and tried to get a lot of outs.”


Southeastern Louisiana Head Coach Matt Riser

Opening Statement…
“I tell you what – I couldn’t be any more proud of this group of guys. If you look at the adversity we faced throughout the year, we started out 9-8, the worst we’ve had since I’ve been there. You know we had a six game losing streak, the longest losing streak we’ve had since 2007. At the end of the day when the story was at this standpoint - at the end – it’s one of the greatest years in Southeastern history. I couldn’t be any more proud of the guys to face the adversity that they did, the challenges they did. You saw that’s a tough bunch of kids that we got. They battled to the last pitch, all the way through the ninth inning. It obviously didn’t end the way we wanted. At the end of the day, I couldn’t be any more proud of our guys.”

On Houston’s six-run second inning…
“Yeah – you know we’ve been playing good baseball for a while now – for a couple of weeks. Again, it was an inning that got away from us. Unfortunately you look back it for the tournament, you can look at two innings that really kind of hampered us a little bit – the eighth inning against LSU and the second inning today with Houston. But you know at the end of the day, it’s baseball. It happens and next week we talk about – we harp on the fundamentals of baseball and that’s why. To be honest with you, more came from loss than won. That’s why you just keep battling to the last pitch. Like I said, I couldn’t be more proud of the guys for it.”

On this being the first step for next season…
“Again, just really proud of our seniors. They kind of stepped up for us and said, ‘You know what, we’ve been so close for so many years. It’s time to take this thing to the next level.’ They got all the guys to buy in. You know we had seniors that were role players all year, but they weren’t selfish. They didn’t complain about playing time. When they got their opportunity, they took advantage of it. You saw Gabe Woods get in there in the ninth inning locked in and hits that ball over the fence. Again, it’s just a testimony to what we’ve built honestly. Yeah – it’s taking it to the next level. Honestly, I thank the seniors for everything they did with our program and where it’s taken our program. Honestly the younger guys – hey, remember this feeling. Now it’s time to take it to another level.”

On the crowd supporting his team…
“Yeah – you talk about just awesome support. Honestly the year that Southeastern athletics has had – it’s the most championships we’ve had I think in a year for the entire athletic program. We had five total; I think before that was three. You saw the support. It was so neat to run out of that third base box and hear that crowd – you know a couple thousand fans – out there supporting us no matter what. They had our back the whole time. Honestly even after the second inning, we get back in there and score a couple of runs. They’re right back there. They’re cheering; they’re just so proud of our guys. I couldn’t ask for a better home crowd.”

On what he has returning for next year…
“Yeah – you know we have a lot coming back honestly. We have to wait to see with the draft goes with some guys and see what we need to replace if there is anything there draft-wise. At the end of the day, a lot of the guys we had out there. I know at one point in time we had three or four freshmen on the field when we throw a certain pitcher. The future is bright. I think we had a great recruiting class coming in to replace some guys next year. Honestly, I think the future is definitely going to be bright for Lion Nation.”

Southeastern Louisiana Player Quotes

1B Sam Roberson

On the game today and the entire season…
“This year, I thought we had just a great year. Everyone stepped up as a whole. (Jameson) Fisher did awesome this year taking the whole load catching wise. He did great. Coach Riser did an outstanding job coaching his first year here and leading us. For the day, I felt pretty good. I just got some good pitches to hit and put it on the barrel.”

On the success of this year and the precedent it sets for the program…
“We definitely set a new standard for Southeastern baseball. We got our first conference championship we’ve ever had since joining the Southland Conference, and our first regional in 20 years. The past three years that I’ve been here, we’ve been dog piled three times. This year was the first year we got to do it. Now, we got over the hump. Now, it feels like an expectation moving forward which is a great place to be other than just getting there.”

C Jameson Fisher

On the game today and the year…
“I thought it was a great year for Southeastern making it to regional. First time in 20 years. Obviously, it wasn’t the way we wanted it to end. We wanted to keep fighting, keep moving on and playing with the guys that we had. As far as I go, as always, all the glory to God. Everything I have, all the success I have is given from Him. Just like Sam (Roberson) said, I had a few balls to hit and just put a barrel on it.”

On the errors in the second inning…
“Yeah, it was definitely frustrating. Especially not seeing guys make plays that they make nine times out of 10, some plays 10 out of 10. It’s just frustrating, there’s not much else to say. It was just one of those days.”




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