The Univwrsity of Houston baseball team took its first game of the season in usual come-from-behind fashion with a 8-7 win over No. 4 Rice at Cougar Field on Wednesday.
The Cougars (1-2) trailed 3-2 after three innings until Rice's Bubba Crosby belted his first home run of the season, a three-run, line-drive shot off UH reliever Alex Jackson, to give the Owls a 6-2 lead after four.
The Cougars used timely hitting, though to build itself a two-run lead heading into the final two innings.
After getting the lead, the Cougars preserved the win by playing outstanding defense.
Second baseman Sean Allen got the second out of the eighth inning with an over-the-shoulder catch while heading toward the outfield.
UH coach Rayner Noble said, "The play that Sean Allen made, I've only seen a handful of plays that good. That play was just big league."
Allen's superb catch allowed the Cougars to face Crosby with nobody on base. First baseman Jayme Sperring extended himself and dove to his left to get Crosby for the final out of the eighth.
In the ninth, Rice did not go down without a fight. After two outs, Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl and Charles Williams had back-to-back singles.
Catcher Zane Curry brought Kurtz-Nicholl home to make it 8-7. Then, with runners on first and second, Caraway made the play of the game by diving to snatch J.J. Savarino's liner in left field to preserve the UH win.
After trailing 6-2, the Cougars rallied for one run in the fifth inning, three in the sixth and the go-ahead two runs in the seventh.
Pinch hitter Shane Nance led off the seventh inning with a single up the middle. He was sacrificed to second by Robert Dieudonne and came around to score on Shaun Skrehot's two-out RBI single.
With Skrehot at first, Mike Medrano walked, and a batter later, Brandon Caraway doubled Skrehot home for the decisive run.
"When you get the clutch hits with two outs, that really breaks the opposition's back," Noble said.
The beneficiary of the great glove work was winning pitcher Bryan Moore (1-0), who shut down the Owls for the last three and two-thirds innings, allowing only one run and two hits.
"I was a little nervous, but I thought I better do something, because they're the No. 4 team in the nation," Moore said. "The defense made the plays for me when I was running out of gas at the end."
UH holds a 1-0 lead in the five-game series for the rights to the Silver Glove trophy. The next game in the series will be at Cameron Field on Feb. 17.