March 3, 2002
FULLERTON, Calif. - The University of Houston baseball team was the lowest ranked squad entering the 2002 Kia Baseball Bash, but by the end of the tournament, no one doubted who was the best team.
Rallying from an early deficit, the Cougars took an 8-6 win over No. 6 Miami at Goodwin Field on Sunday to sweep three straight nationally-ranked teams and claim the tournament championship. UH has now recorded a 9-3 record against nationally-ranked teams this season.
UH starter Gene Flores set a new career high with nine strikeouts and scattered 10 hits and six runs over 6.1 innings to post his first win of the season and improve to 1-0. Junior Jesse Crain threw 1.2 innings of hitless relief to record his second save of the year.
Miami starter Kiki Bengochea dropped to 1-3 after giving up six hits, six runs and four walks in 5.0 innings.
Stuart Musslewhite went 3-for-4 with a run, home run and four RBIs to lead the Cougar offense.
The Cougars continue their rigorous schedule when they face No. 27 Louisiana-Lafayette in a three-game series in Louisiana on March 8-10. It marks the third straight week that the Cougar schedule has featured nothing but nationally-ranked teams.
After falling behind 4-0 in the first inning, UH rallied to post five runs in the third inning. After Sam Mitchell was hit by a Bengochea pitch and consecutive walks to Michael Bourn and Hyung Cho loaded the bases, Chris Snyder laced a hard ground ball that glanced off Miami shortstop Kevin Howard's glove into left field, allowing two runs to score.
Two batters later, Musslewhite brought all Cougar runners home and gave UH a 5-4 lead with a home run over the left center field wall, his first of the season.
In the fifth inning, the Cougars added to their lead when Thanos Papavasiliou's single to left field plated Anthony Scalise.
One inning later, the Cougars struck for two more runs with Musslewhite in the middle of the UH scoring again. After Cho reached on a Miami error and Snyder singled up the middle, Musslewhite lined another shot to center field for his fourth RBI of the game. Snyder then scored on the Hurricanes' fifth error of the afternoon after Musslewhite was caught in a rundown between first base and second base.
However, the Hurricanes would not go quietly, rallying for two runs in the seventh inning on Kevin Howard's RBI-single and Danny Matienzo's RBI double to right center. Miami threatened for more in the inning, putting runners on second and third, but UH reliever Nathan Mitchell induced a strikeout and lineout to end the frame.
That would be all the offense that the Hurricanes would muster the rest of the way.