by Andrew J. FerraroDaily Cougar Staff
Texas Christian University coach Lance Brown needed just one win in order to break the school record for all-time wins.
And after losing three straight to the revitalized Cougars, Brown got win No. 299 and did it in style, downing Houston 14-4 behind great defense and timely hitting.
"It's just short of being special," Brown said. "We should have gotten that win (no. 299) against Oral Roberts, but we had a bad streak. Maybe now we'll turn it around."
Houston starter Jeff Hampton walked in TCU's first two runs before Jon McDonald came in and ended the inning on a fielder's choice by Horned Frogs third baseman Matt Howe.
After scoring an unearned run in the bottom of the first, the Cougars added two more in the third on four straight singles.
First, Brandon Milam drove in Dominic Hernandez, then Jason Schreiber singled in Dustin Carr, giving the Cougars their first lead of the day at 3-2.
The Frogs tied the score at four apiece on back-to-back doubles by Jeff McCurdy and Jeff Yarbrough.
McDonald then retired the next three batters to end any threat of a big inning.
The Cougars once again dug down for a run in taking their second and final lead of the game when Milam, after being hit by a pitch, scored on a passed ball.
TCU then answered with a seven-run sixth capped by a first baseman David Johnson three-run homer to make the score 10-4.
After striking out Keith Knoerr to open the inning, McDonald and Robb Kirkland gave up two walks, a single, and two doubles before Kirkland retired Ryan Dunn on a pop-up.
Just when it appeared that Kirkland had got out of the jam, Johnson nailed his seventh home run of the season over the left-field fence.
Unfortunately for UH, the offensive barrage of TCU wasn't over.
The Frogs added four more runs in the eighth, led by Yarbrough's first collegiate home run off Kirkland that wrapped around the left-field foul pole.
TCU reliever Scott Atchison pitched the final seven innings of the ballgame, allowing just one run on five hits while walking one and striking out seven.
He retired the final nine Cougars en route to his fourth win of the season.
Although the Cougars' pitching staff walked nine batters in the finale, it was hats off to them for the three victories.
Complete games from Manbeck in the opener and Schreiber in game one of Saturday's double header boosted the Cougars to their first conference winning streak of the season.
In Friday night's 9-2 win, the Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run double from Schreiber in the first inning.
TCU tied the game in the top of the third off Brad Wallace's fourth homer of the season.
After the home run, Manbeck did not allow a run in the final six innings, scattering seven hits, with two walks and eight strikeouts.
The Cougars took the lead for good as Ryan Ware hit his second homer of the season, leading the way for the four-run fourth.
In the opener of Saturday's double header, Schreiber threw his second complete game in a row, yielding just two runs on four hits while walking just one and striking out seven.
Schreiber has walked just three batters in his last 28-and-two-thirds innings pitched.
He also hit his team co-leading sixth homer of the season in the fourth inning off TCU starter Derek Lee.
"Anytime you get complete games, it means you're No. 1 in the game," Houston coach Rayner Noble said. "If you look at the games in which we've dominated teams, it's because of great pitching, and we didn't walk anybody."
In the second game, the Cougars had to rely on their bats in the 10-9 victory.
Leading by one in the bottom of the seventh, Houston added four insurance runs capped by a three-run homer by left fielder Goefrey Tomlinson, his first this season.
Although TCU made things interesting by scoring four runs in the top of the ninth, Houston reliever Tommy Marik struck out Casey Smith to end the game and preserve the double-header sweep.
"I think the series was pretty much determined by the pitching," said TCU assistant Nolan Ryan. "I believe that when Houston had good pitching, they won the ball games and when we had good pitching, we won the ballgames."