Cougars lose final game against Rice
By Stuart H. Clements
Daily Cougar Staff
In a close battle of hometown giants, the No. 7 Houston baseball team
traveled to Reckling Park to face No. 3 Rice in the Silver Glove series
finale Tuesday and was defeated 7-5 in a game that held the crowd's excitement
until the very end.
The Cougars lost the series in the first three games, but won the fourth
game and hoped to trounce the Owls on their home turf to finish the series.
They nearly did just that.
Houston fell to 27-11 while Rice improved to 32-8.
Senior Keith Whatley toed the rubber for the Cougars and gave up four
runs on five hits in three and two-thirds innings of work.
For six innings, the game felt like a flashback to Feb. 12, when the
Owls shut out the Cougars 4-0 to take the first game of this season's Silver
In the bottom of the third, Rice had a four-run streak to take the lead,
while the Cougars still had no runs.
Owl Justin Ruchti hit a single to get on base, and was followed by Chris
Kolkhorst, who also had a base hit.
Rice's A.J. Porfirio loaded the bases after an error committed by junior
Cougar shortstop Jesse Crain. Next, the Owls' Eric Arnold and Vincent Sinisi
back-to-back doubles, each picking up two RBIs. Hunter Brown grounded
out to end the inning.
Freshman Ryan Wagner and senior Matt Hooper pitched relief for a combined
two-and-two-thirds scoreless innings. Wagner faced five batters, walked
one and struck out four, while Hooper faced only three batters before
ending the inning.
Hope for Houston rapidly dwindled with each scoreless inning and it
wasn't until the top of the seventh that the Cougar offense sprang into
Sophomore Hyung Cho singled in the seventh to reach base. Sophomore
Gabe Lucas struck out for the first out, but sophomore Michael Bourn
reached base on an error from Rice's Eric Arnold.
Senior Keith Whatley also reached base on an error by Rice first baseman
Vincent Sinisi, and Cho made it home to score the first run. Junior Chris
Snyder followed with a double off the left field wall and picked up
two RBIs, clearing the bases.
Junior Brett Cooley drove Snyder in with a single and was then plated
by freshman Stuart Musslewhite, allowing UH to take a 5-4 lead before Cho
grounded out to end the inning.
Going into the bottom of the seventh, things were looking up. Although
the lead was slim, relief pitchers sophomore Brian Henderson and senior
Nathan Mitchell combined to give up only one hit, and it didn't come
until the bottom of the ninth.
Mitchell was pulled after allowing the hit and sophomore Austin Faught
took the hill and immediately walked a batter.
Kolkhorst batted next and hit a three-run walk-off home run off Faught
to win the game, 7-5.
At the close of the game, members of the All-Series team were named.
Six Houston players made the cut for their outstanding performance in the
series, as did six Rice players.
Lucas and Bourn were named to the team as superior outfielders. Cho
was the third baseman, and Snyder rounded out the infield awards as catcher.
Sophomore Danny Zell was the only pitcher from Houston to make the team
because he was the only pitcher to win against Rice.
Crain received honors as the wild card player for showing diversity
on offense, on defense and on the mound.
The Cougars gear up for a three-game series against Conference USA foe
Cincinnati this weekend.