Feb. 15, 2003
HOUSTON - The University of Houston baseball team exploded out of an early offensive slump Saturday during a 7-2 win over Alabama during second-day competition at the Minute Maid Park College Classic.
UH (2-3) erupted for seven runs off 13 hits as the first eight batters in the Cougar lineup posted at least one hit in the game. After going 1-2-3- in their first at-bat, the Cougars rapped out at least one hit every inning the rest of the way.
Senior first baseman Brett Cooley broke out of an 0-for-15 slump in a big way, going 4-for-5 with two runs and four RBIs. Junior DH Thanos Papavasiliou went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, and Hyung Cho extended his team-best hitting streak to five games with a 2-for-5 with two runs performance.
The Cougars didn't need much offense after another solid outing on the mound from junior southpaw Danny Zell, who improved to 2-0 with the win. The Cypress, Texas, native tied a career-best with 7.0 innings with only four hits and one run allowed as well as five strikeouts.
Sophomore reliever Ryan Wagner slammed the door on the Crimson Tide in the final two innings, striking out six of the eight batters he faced.
Alabama starter Brent Carter dropped to 0-1 after giving up seven hits and four runs in 4.1 innings. Offensively, the Crimson Tide was led by Brad Van Winkle, who went 2-for-4 with a run.
Alabama (1-1) got on the scoreboard first with a run in the second inning. Al Hecklinski reached on a single through the right side to lead off the frame and moved to third base on back-to-back groundouts before scoring on a wild pitch.
However, the Cougars knotted the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning. Cooley, Cole Bruce and Stuart Musslewhite rapped out three straight hits to leadoff the frame and load the bases. From there, Papavasiliou lifted a sacrifice fly to left field for his team-leading third RBI of the year. However, that would be all the Cougars would score as Carter struck out the next two batters.
In the fourth inning, the Cougars grabbed their first lead of the game with a run. Musslewhite ripped a single up the middle and raced to second when Alabama center fielder Travis Garner was slow in returning the ball to the infield. From there, Papavasiliou blasted another double off the left center field wall to score Musslewhite and give UH a 2-1 lead, its first lead of the tournament.
UH padded its lead in the fifth inning with two more runs. After Hyung Cho reached on an infield error, Cooley blasted his first home run of the year with a shot to left field that gave the Cougars a 4-1 lead.
In the seventh, Musslewhite's sacrifice fly to right field plated Cho, who led off the inning with a single to left field.
Alabama cut into the lead with a run in the eighth on Beau Hearod's RBI-triple but would get no closer. In the bottom of the frame, Cooley laced a two-out, two-RBI single for the final margin of victory.
The Cougars wrap up their stay at the tournament when they meet Texas A&M at 7 p.m., Sunday. Sophomore righthander Garrett Mock is slated to make his second straight start for UH. Last weekend, the Houston native scattered five hits and allowed only two runs with six strikeouts in 6.0 innings against Washington at the Battle at the Beach.
Fans can catch the action on KAXF 88.3 FM or over the Internet at www.UHcougars.com.