Tuesday, April 16th, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 131


Cougars plan to stuff Owls

By Stuart H. Clements
Daily Cougar Staff

The No. 7 Houston baseball team faces No. 3 Rice at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Reckling Park after maintaining its national rank for the second straight week.

Brian Viney/The Daily Cougar

Senior pitcher Keith Whatley will start for the Cougars tonight. Whatley leads the team in wins with seven.

The Cougars went 4-0 last week, defeating No. 18 Texas A&M and sweeping three games against Memphis.

All four games were decisive, with Houston winning by no less than eight runs. The contests improved Houston to 27-10 overall, 11-4 in Conference
USA, making the team No. 1.

Tuesday's game is the final game of the Silver Glove series, a perennial event involving the two cross-town rivals.

The Owls have already captured the Silver Glove this season, winning the title in three games, including a 4-0 shutout at Reckling Park on Feb. 12. It
was the first time since 1999 that Houston had been shut out.

Rice is 31-8 overall, and also leads its conference, the Western Athletic Conference, with a 14-1 league record.

The Cougars followed up with a shutout of their own April 2 in the fourth game of the series, when they defeated the Owls 1-0. It was Houston's first win
of the season against Rice and the first time in 12 seasons the Cougars shut out the Owls.

Senior Keith Whatley will be the starter on the mound for Tuesday's game. Whatley moved from the Saturday starter to the Tuesday starter after falling
into a bit of a slump.

Whatley lost two games straight before starting last Tuesday against Texas A&M and picking up the win to improve to 7-3.

Whatley, a native of Atlanta, Texas, leads the team and the conference in wins. The southpaw holds a 4.10 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 48 and one-third
innings of work.

Freshman Jeff Niemann will start for the Owls. Niemann, a right-handed pitcher, is undefeated with four wins this season and has a 3.02 ERA.

Niemann has tallied 32 strikeouts in 41 and two-thirds innings on the mound.

The Cougar offense is batting a collective .307, up 10 points since last week, and five of the team's eight starters have batting averages over .300.

Junior Jesse Crain leads the Cougar offense. The Boulder, Colo., native sits atop with a .333 batting average with four home runs and 29 RBIs. Crain
was just one of four Cougars who hit home runs against Memphis.

Junior Chris Snyder is clipping the heels of Crain with a .328 batting average, six home runs and 30 RBIs.

Junior Brett Cooley hit three home runs last weekend and batted an outstanding .706 for his best performance to date. Cooley leads the team with 12
doubles, 10 home runs and 31 RBIs and pulled his season batting average up to .319. Junior Anthony Scalise is tied with Cooley at .319.

Sophomore Michael Bourn holds a .314 batting average and leads the team in stolen bases with 18.

Rice's offense is batting .334 as a team, and Vincent Sinisi leads the offense with a .407 batting average. Sinisi also tops the charts with 15 doubles
and has tallied five home runs and 49 RBIs.

Owl Eric Arnold had a batting average over .400 two weeks ago, but has dropped to .357. Arnold leads in RBIs with 52 and has smashed six home
runs this season.

Enrique Cruz leads the Owls in home runs with nine this season.

The Cougars face C-USA foe Cincinnati this weekend in a three-game series at Cougar Field beginning at 7 p.m. Friday and concluding at 1 p.m.

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