Feb. 14, 2004
USAF Academy, Colo. - Behind a solid pitching performance from sophomore Clayton Couch, Air Force baseball defeated Southern Utah, 9-5, to earn new head coach Mike Hutcheon his first victory at AFA. The Falcons, who rallied from a 4-1 deficit, improve to 1-3 on the young season.
Southern Utah, which defeated Creighton, 10-5, in a game played prior to the SUU-AFA game, falls to 1-1.
After surrendering four runs in the first three innings, Couch (1-0) settled down and kept the Thunderbirds scoreless for the next three innings to earn the win. The sophomore right-hander struck out a career-high seven batters--including the first four outs of the game--in allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings pitched.
Chris Mower (0-1) took the loss for SUU in relief. Thunderbird starter Jason Gillins gave up five runs, four earned, on six hits in 3.1 innings of work.
Mountain West Conference Player of the Week Nathan DeRohan led the way offensively for the Falcons, blasting his second home run of the season in a clutch four-run sixth inning, that helped AFA pull away from SUU. Colton Walter, Ryan Fitzgerald, Mike Rose and Travis Fugler each had a pair of hits for the Falcons.
Josh Bolingbroke led SUU's offense, going 2-for-5 with a home run, two runs and two RBI.
Southern Utah jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. After fanning the first two batters, Couch surrendered three consecutive SUU base hits before striking out the side.
The Falcons came right back in the bottom of the inning with the aid of two Thunderbird errors. After reaching base on a throwing error by SUU shortstop Jason Ruiz, AFA's Reid Lamson came around to score when center fielder Kory Drew misplayed a routine fly ball hit by Mike Rose, making the score 2-1 in favor of Southern Utah.
SUU tacked on two more runs in the third, highlighted by a solo home run from Bolingbroke to left center, making it a 4-1 ball game.
Air Force rebounded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning to pull to within one, 4-3. Travis Fugler singled to right to drive in Ryan Fitzgerald for the first Falcon run and then Nathan DeRohan's sacrifice fly to left field scored Mike Rose.
The Falcons added two more runs in the fourth to take a 5-4 lead. Colton Walter doubled to score Josh Wolfram for the first run and then Walter scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from SUU reliever Chris Mower.
AFA broke the game open in the sixth by scoring four runs to take a commanding 9-4 lead. Walter led off the inning with a single up the middle and was moved to second on a well-placed sacrifice bunt by Lamson. After Fitzgerald walked, Rose doubled over the centerfielder's head to score Walter. Fugler followed up with a single to left, scoring Fitzgerald while Rose was thrown out at third. DeRohan then homered to left center to make the score 9-4.
In the top of the seventh, Mitch Brown came in to pitch for the Falcons and was able get out of a bases loaded jam by striking out Jona Droubay looking on a full count to get out of the inning. Brown pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth inning for AFA. Senior Michael Chapados pitched the ninth inning to close the game out.
The Falcons return to action tomorrow playing Creighton and Southern Utah. Air Force takes on Creighton at 10 a.m., followed by the Falcons taking on SUU immediately after the conclusion of the first game.
Game notes: Brigadier General Johnny A. Weida, Commandant of Cadets at the Air Force Academy, threw out the first pitch... Mike Hutcheon records his first win as head coach for Air Force... Sophomore right-hander Clayton Couch struck out a career high seven batters... Senior Mike Rose appeared in his 100th career game and recorded his 99th and 100th career base hits.