Wednesday, April 17, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 132


 
 









 

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 Glove
series.

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 hit
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 action.

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.
 
 
 

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