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Friday, April 7, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 128

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UH hopes to end home jinx vs. USF

By Anna Sivadasan
Daily Cougar Staff 

The UH baseball team will have two objectives in mind when it plays host to the South Florida Bulls this weekend at Cougar Field.

First, the ninth-ranked Cougars (22-10 overall, 5-2 Conference USA) hope to take three games from USF and improve on their 8-7 home record, which should put all the talk about the Cougar Field jinx to rest.


UH No. 2 starter Shane Nance will in all likelihood miss yet another weekend series while nursing a bruised right shoulder suffered in an outfield collision with Jason Pekar.

Kevin Harwerth/The Daily Cougar

Superstitious as they are, UH players are looking for things to change to see if their luck improves at home. 

"Right now, it's more mental than anything else," Houston pitcher Jerret Sykes said. "We only wear our red spikes at home, but we're going to try out the black spikes this weekend, and see if that will help."

And objective No. 2 is to not make the same mistakes twice. When the Cougars played at Texas A&M Tuesday night, UH was uncharacteristically out of sync, both offensively and defensively.

The Cougars made four errors in the field and only had four hits while striking out a season-high 17 times, all of which helped result in a 5-4 loss to the Aggies in 11 innings. "Since we lost at A&M on the road to stop our road winning streak (at 13), maybe we'll start a winning streak at home," UH's Brandon Caraway said.

The Cougars will get that opportunity tonight when they send righty Kyle Crowell to the mound. The lefty, Sykes, will start Saturday night and righty Duncan McAdoo will get the nod in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

The Bulls come into Cougar Field with a 16-17 overall record and 3-6 C-USA mark. USF is coming off a 6-2 win on Tuesday over No. 25 Central Florida.

"They have a lot of veterans on their team," UH head coach Rayner Noble said. "They have an idea of what they've got to do to beat an opponent. They're familiar with our pitchers, and I think this weekend's basically going to come down to who makes the pitches and who makes the plays."

South Florida will start lefty Alex Brown (2-6, 4.11 ERA) tonight, and righties John Vigue (5-6, 6.05) and John Gorham (6-3, 4.35) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

In the one-run loss to the Aggies, A&M pitchers had success primarily because they threw UH hitters a steady diet of breaking balls.

"If we would have faced somebody like that this weekend, we would have been in trouble," Noble said. "Hopefully, that was an eye-opener for us."

On the UH injury front, lefty Shane Nance will again be limited to pinch hitting duty this weekend. The senior's last appearance on the hill was more than a month ago against Illinois.

"There's still some pain, but it's getting a little better every day," Nance said. "There's no time on when I'm going to be back. It just depends on when I can go out there and tolerate the pain."

Game times for this weekend will be 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday.
 

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