March 7, 2003
HOUSTON - Northwestern State pitcher Casey Johnson held the University of Houston baseball team to only two hits and added six strikeouts in a 2-0 win at Cougar Field on Friday during the first game on a non-conference series.
Johnson retired nine of 10 batters midway through the game and did not allow a Cougar hit until the fifth inning to improve to 4-0 and lower his team-leading ERA to a minuscule 0.47 mark. He became the first pitcher to hold the Cougars to two hits since Tulane's Jared Berkowitz accomplished the feat on April 17, 1999.
The Demons wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard, scoring twice in the first inning on Josh Boop's RBI- groundout and Jeff Martin's two-out, RBI-single. That would be all the offense that Johnson would need for the rest of the evening in handing the Cougars their second shutout of the year.
The series continues at 7 p.m. Saturday at Cougar Field. Junior righthander Brad Sullivan (1-3, 2.93) is slated to start for the Cougars, while senior righthander Aaron Gravis (3-1, 3.72) will throw for NSU.
Saturday's game can be heard live on the radio at KAXF 88.3 FM or over the Internet at www.UHcougars.com with pregame slated to begin at 6:45 p.m.. Fans can also catch the action batter-by-batter by clicking on the "Gametracker" link on the "Daily Calendar" at the bottom of the main page.
The Cougars (6-8) had chances to put a number on the scoreboard but were unable to get the timely hit. In the fourth inning, Thanos Papavasiliou and Cole Bruce reached on consecutive NSU errors and moved to second and third after a sacrifice from Stuart Musslewhite. However, Johnson forced a strikeout and infield groundout to end the UH threat.
In the ninth inning, Papavasiliou laced a single up the middle for only the Cougars' second hit of the game to put much of the crowd of 794 on its feet. However, pinch-runner Greg Buchanan was thrown out at second base on a close play when a Johnson offering briefly got away from NSU catcher Jeff Martin.
Gabe Lucas and Papavasiliou were the only Cougar hitters to muster hits against Johnson in the fifth and ninth innings, respectively.
UH starter Danny Zell dropped to 4-1 and saw his four-game winning streak snapped after allowing scattering seven hits and only two runs in seven innings of work. The Cypress, Texas, native has given the Cougars at least six innings in each of his five starts this year.
Michael Palermo went 2-for-3 with a run, and Marting batted 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead NSU, which rapped out seven hits in the game. NSU center fielder Josh Boop went 0-for-3 to see his team-best 15-game hitting streak come to an end.