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Volume 72, Issue 95, Monday, February 19, 2007

Sports

Cougars swept by UC-Irvine at home

by RONNIE TURNER
The Daily Cougar

It's still early in the season, but it's become apparent with each passing game that something is terribly wrong with the UH baseball team.

The Cougars' pitching staff has struggled against opposing lineups and the defense has looked very shaky. Unfortunately for the Cougars, those troubles only worsened against UC-Irvine over the weekend at Cougar Field.

Houston dropped all three games of the series, suffering its first three-game non-conference home sweep since Mar. 9-11, 2001 against Cal State Fullerton. Sunday's 11-5 loss also was the Cougars' fifth defeat in their last six games. 

"Things like this happen and test your resolve a little bit. We have to understand that it's a long season and (we have) to continue to work on getting better," UH head coach Rayner Noble said.

A 3-5 start is nothing new for this group, as many of the current players were around when the team experienced an identical start in 2006 before winning 17 of their next 25 games.

"Hopefully, this weekend was a waking-up experience and we'll fix what we need to fix and get back on track," senior third baseman Dustin Kingsbury said. 

Houston was outscored 35-18 for the series, and the defense recorded eight errors. The Cougars held early leads in each contest, but the pitching staff, which posted a 10.67 ERA, failed to hold onto any of them.

Freshman southpaw Donnie Joseph was tagged for five earned runs after only four innings of work in Friday's 9-7 loss. Junior right-hander Aaron Brown (1-0, 4.76 ERA) gave up five earned runs and walked four batters in Saturday's 15-6 loss.

The same misfortune befell freshman southpaw Wes Musick, who gave up six runs (five earned) in Sunday's finale and was charged with the loss. After UC Irvine (7-2-1) roughed him up in the first three innings, Musick (1-2, 7.36) settled down to toss three scoreless innings. 

However, the Cougars could find no answer for UC Irvine's Wes Etheridge (4-0, 1.45), who tossed 5.2 scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win.

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