Feb. 10, 2002
HOUSTON, Texas - Three Cougar pitchers combined for eight innings of shutout ball and reliever Jesse Crain thwarted a ninth-inning rally as the University of Houston took a thrilling 2-1 win over No. 30 Texas A&M during the final day of the Astros College Classic at Enron Field.
Senior starter Keith Whatley set the tone for the day, pitching 6.0 innings with four strikeouts and only two infield hits on the way to his first win of the season.
From there, freshman reliever Ryan Wagner added 1.2 innings of one-hit relief with three strikeouts, and Crain collected his first save of the season despite allowing two walks and an unearned run in the ninth inning.
With the win, the Cougars knocked the Aggies from the unbeaten ranks in the tournament and tied with Rice, Texas A&M, TCU and the winner of the Texas-Louisiana-Lafayette game for top honors with a 2-1 record at the four-day event.
UH (2-1) moved into the top of the ninth inning with a comfortable 2-0 inning and appeared to have the game under control when Crain struck out leadoff batter Tim Petru. However, consecutive walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with only one out.
Crain then struck out pinch-hitter David Evans but a UH error in the infield allowed Mavroulis to cut the UH lead in half and all three base runners to move up. That would be as close as Texas A&M would get, though, as Crain struck out Matt Alexander for the final out and his first save of the season.
Texas A&M starter Kyle Parcus dropped to 0-1 after allowing four hits and one run in 5.0 innings.
In a game with only nine hits combined between the two teams, UH junior infielder Brett Cooley led all players by going 2-for-4 with a run. The Round Rock native was the only player with multiple hits in the game.
The Cougars struck for the game's first run in the second inning. Cooley led off with a double in the left center gap and scored two batters later on Crain's RBI-double in the same place.
Texas A&M had a chance to cut into the UH lead in the top of the seventh inning but was unable to capitalize. Coby Mavroulis walked to lead off the inning, was bunted to second base and moved to third on an infield groundout, but Wagner ended the threat by striking out Aggie centerfielder Eric Reed for the inning's final out.
With that momentum, the Cougars struck for their second run in the bottom of the inning. Chris Snyder was hit by a Ryan Warpinski offering, his fourth bruise from a pitch in the tournament. The Houston native then moved into scoring position on an errant pickoff attempt from Warpinski and moved to third base on a wild pitch.
Stuart Musslewhite then gave the Cougars a 2-0 advantage with a sharp single to left field.
UH plays a trio of road games next week, starting with a 4 p.m. showdown Tuesday against crosstown rival Rice at Reckling Park. It will be the first of five games between the two teams in the annual Silver Glove Series, sponsored by Sterling Bank.
From there, the Cougars travel to Round Rock to compete in the Dell Diamond Tournament against Texas Tech on Friday and Southwest Texas State on Saturday.
The team then returns home for the annual Alumni game, slated to begin at noon Sunday.