Baseball downs the Owls
By Stuart H. Clements
Daily Cougar Staff
The No. 5 Houston baseball team has another
trophy to add to its collection of defeated Top 25 opponents. The Cougars
upset the No. 3 Rice Owls 1-0 Tuesday night in a ferocious defensive battle.
Kevin Harwerth/The Daily
The baseball team runs out
to congratulate senior Nathan Mitchell (center, with arm raised) on his
first save of the season after he
held Rice scoreless in the bottom of the
ninth. The win marked the Cougars' first of the year over their cross-town
The game was the fourth of the annual
Silver Glove series between the cross-town rivals. Rice had already won
the series in the first
three games of the five-game series, but
the Cougars weren't ready to give up.
"Pitching and defense was the key tonight,"
head coach Rayner Noble said. "It sure wasn't offense."
The battle took place on the field, rather
than at the plate. The Cougars tallied just three hits against the Owls'
The only run of the game was scored on
a play on which Rice had two errors.
The Cougar offense was led by freshman
Stuart Musslewhite, who scored the winning run in the bottom of the second
Musslewhite managed a base hit after one
out in the inning. Junior Anthony Scalise was next up to bat and hit a
ball directly at Rice
first baseman Eric Arnold.
The ball bounced off Arnold's glove, and
second baseman Vincent Sinisi chased after it into left field, then threw
it past first base into
After the dust had settled from the two
errors, Musslewhite had made it home and Scalise was comfortably on third
Sophomore Danny Zell was the starter on
the mound against the Owls and went his longest stretch of the year, giving
innings and improving his record to 2-0
on the season.
Zell, a southpaw, struck out two batters
and gave up only four hits and no runs, lowering his ERA to 2.51.
Sophomore Austin Faught took the hill as
the relief pitcher and went three and one-third innings. Faught recorded
only one strikeout,
but gave up no hits and no runs. Faught
now has a 3.09 ERA.
"Take a look at Danny Zell and Austin Faught,"
Noble said. "Anybody that can hold a team that's batting .337 to four hits
— that's pretty
Senior Nathan Mitchell filled in as the
closer on the mound for two-thirds of an inning. Mitchell faced two batters,
striking out the last
batter for the win to improve his ERA
to 2.41. The senior right-hander tallied his fourth save of the season.
The Cougar defense really saved the game.
Rice had six batters left on base, and no Owl made it past second base.
Houston had two double plays to close out
the top of two innings and went three up and three down in the top of the
The menial offensive action and monumental
defensive success maintained palpable tension throughout the game, and
Cougar defense simply played better ball
to win the game.
The Cougars will face East Carolina in
a three-game series this weekend in Conference USA play. The Pirates are
No. 8 in C-USA
and possess a 4-4-1 league record.