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Volume 68, Issue 98 , Tuesday, February 18, 2003


Slumping Coogs begin Rice series

By Stuart H. Clements
The Daily Cougar

After the weekendis Astros College Classic debacle, the then-No. 13 Houston baseball team plummeted to No. 20 in Baseball Americais Top 25 poll.

Junior designated hitter Thanos Papavasiliou leads the Cougars with a .412 batting average. UH lost two-of-three at the Astros College Classic but will attempt to get back on the winning side when it plays Rice at 3 p.m. today at Cougar Field.

Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars stand at 2-4 on the season (1-2 in the weekend tournament) and are looking for a win today against crosstown rival No. 2 Rice in the opening game of the 2003 Silver Glove Series.

The 3 p.m. game will be Houstonis home opener for the season at Cougar Field.

The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. but was changed because of a conflict with the menis basketball game against Southern Miss. That gameis tip-off is still set for 7:30 p.m. at Hofheinz Pavilion.

Although the games against Rice are a series of midweek games, the Cougars always look forward to the rivalry they share with the Owls.

Since UH sent 13 pitchers to the mound during the weekend tournament, head coach Rayner Noble didnit know who heid start against Rice. But with junior Brad Sullivan only lasting 1.2 innings Friday, the Nederland native was picked to make his third start of the year.

The defending Conference USA Pitcher of the Year will look to bounce back from the shortest outing of his career. He gave up seven hits and five earned runs against the Bears during UHis 14-4 loss.

But since itis the first midweek game for the Cougars, there will probably be a lot of pitchers on the mound before anything is set into the rotation for the remainder of the season.

On the offensive side, junior designated hitter Thanos Papavasiliou is on a nine-game hitting streak (tied with junior outfielder Michael Bourn for longest on the team). His .412 batting average leads the Cougars.

The Owls are looking to defend their Silver Glove title this season after winning the series four games to the Cougarsi one last season.

Rice has a 3-1 record for the season and is expected to pitch sophomore Wade Townsend against the Cougar offense. Townsend will be looking for his first decision of the season. The right-hander has a 13.50 ERA.

Although Rice has taken home the Silver Glove four of the last five seasons, the Cougars possess an all-time record of 61-55 against the Owls, with the first game being played back in 1948.

The Owls won all three games played at Reckling Park last season and split the two games at Cougar Field. In the opening game of the series, Rice shut out the Cougars 4-0 on their home turf, making it the first shutout against Houston since 1992.

Rice head coach Wayne Graham is in his 12th season with the Owls and has compiled a 481-213 record. Graham and his team are 296-71 at home.

The game will be Houstonis first and last at home before going on a three-game road trip when they will face No. 14 Louisiana State in Baton Rouge, La.

The series heads back to Rice for Game 2 at 7 p.m. March 4.

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