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Volume 68, Issue 144, Monday, June 2, 2003


Win sends UH to face Rice in Super Regionals

Cougar Sports Services

It wasn't supposed to happen. A No. 3 seeding. An opening game drubbing at the hands of Alabama. Down 6-2 in the bottom of the eighth to the home team, the Texas A&M Aggies (45-19).

But it did happen. And boy, did it feel good. 

"(It) may be the biggest win in my days at the University of Houston," head coach Rayner Noble said."

Junior centerfielder Michael Bourn had three hits against Texas A&M during the Cougars' 7-6 10-inning win in the College Station Regional on Sunday. Bourn hit a triple in the ninth inning that got the Cougars within 6-5 and then scored the tying the run later in the inning.

Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar

A&M relief pitcher Matt Farnum's throwing error in the bottom of the tenth inning sealed the 7-6 victory and, more importantly, the NCAA Regional at College Station championship for the Cougars, ending the roller-coaster that was the regional weekend.

The victory sets up a rematch with rival Rice on June 6-8 in the next round of postseason action, the Super Regionals. The winner of the series will participate in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. In their five previous meetings this season, Rice owns a decisive advantage, winning four of the five games. 

It is UH's (36-28) third Super Regional appearance in the last four seasons (2000, 2002).

Farnum retired the first two batters in the bottom of the 10th inning before issuing back-to-back walks to pinch hitters Brian Martin and Sam Mitchell. Stuart Musslewhite dribbled a ball to the mound and Farnum fired high at first base and down the foul line to allow Martin to score the game winner.

With one out and one on in the bottom of ninth, UH centerfielder Michael Bourn singed the ball to centerfield, driving in xx. Bourn filled the stat sheet in the second game. He had three hits, three runs, a stolen base, an RBI and another shot at hated rival Rice.

The Cougars grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the half of the first on a Hyung Cho groundout to the shortstop, which allowed Bourn to score, but A&M answered quickly with back-to-back home runs in the top of the second to take a 2-1 lead. A Gabe Lucas sacrifice fly to center in the bottom half of the second tied the game at two. 

The Aggies scored two unearned runs in the top of the fifth and A&M leftfielder John Infante belted the Aggies' fourth home fun of the game in the eighth to give A&M a 6-2 advantage.

Despite a first game upset of 9-3 lost to Alabama Friday in the NCAA Regional Tournament, the UH rallied during the next few games of preliminary play. 

The Coogs eliminated Oral Roberts 4-2 in the second game. Second baseman Cole Bruce led UH to victory after hitting a RBI single in the eighth inning, which broke a 1-1 tie, and started a three-run rally for the Cougars. In the ninth inning UH was able to hold off an ORU rally. ORU scored one run and had the bases loaded with two outs and appeared to tie the game when David Castillo hit a grounder up the middle. Cougar shortstop Musslewhite forced an out on second base a split-second before the runner made it to the bag. 

In a rematch with Alabama on Saturday UH defeated the Crimson Tide 16-8 eliminating the team from the tournament and advancing to the championship. Bruce led the Cougars batting 3-for-4 with four runs and four RBIs. UH dominated the game scoring a minimum of three runs in four consecutive innings, and seven of the UH's nine starters had at least one hit and one RBI. 

UH squeaked by A&M 7-6 Sunday in the first game of championship play. Third baseman Hyung Cho blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, taking UH out of a one run deficit, and putting the team in the driver's seat. Cho led the Cougar offense, going 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs. Bruce continued his hot streak batting 3-for-3 with a run and a walk. UH pitcher Ryan Wagner held back the Aggie offense and set his school record with his 14th save of the season, striking out three of the seven batters he faced, with two shut-out innings. Freshman reliever Kevin Roberts came in to take the win.

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