March 29, 2002
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Anthony Scalise's sacrifice fly broke a 2-2 tie in the 10th inning, and UH reliever Jesse Crain pitched his way out of a jam in the bottom of the frame, as the fifth-ranked University of Houston baseball team took a 3-2 win over No. 34 Southern Mississippi on Friday in the first game of a Conference USA series at Pete Taylor Park.
Outfielder Michael Bourn started the rally with a double in the left center gap and moved to third base when USM left fielder Jeff Cook bobbled the ball for just a second. Scalise then lifted a deep fly ball to right field, allowing Bourn to score and giving the Cougars a slim advantage.
USM (17-9, 5-2 C-USA) seemed to grab the momentum right back in the bottom of the inning when Carlos Velasquez and Allen Winningham led off with back-to-back singles. But Crain retired the next two Golden Eagle batters on a strikeout and infield groundout and, after a walk to load the bases, forced Clint Stoy to pop up in the infield.
Crain improved to 3-0 after tossing 1.1 innings of two-hit, shutout relief and extended his consecutive inning scoreless streak to 17.1 innings to open the season. His performance was part of a solid outing by the UH bullpen, which allowed only three hits and no runs in 3.2 innings of relief.
The series continues at 2 p.m. Saturday and wraps up at 1 p.m. Sunday. UH senior southpaw Keith Whatley, the C-USA leader in wins this season, looks to improve on his 6-1 record on Saturday. This season, Whatley has recorded 29 strikeouts and a 3.35 ERA in 40.1 innings.
The Cougars (20-7, 6-1 C-USA) won their fifth straight game overall and their eighth contest in their last nine outings against USM. In addition, UH improved 1-1 in extra inning games this season, while USM dropped its second straight game this week.
The Cougars struck for the game's first run in the second inning. Chris Snyder led off the frame with a double to right center and moved to third base on Stuart Musslewhite's single through the left side. Cho then lifted a sacrifice fly to deep left field for a 1-0 UH lead.
USM's Griff Israel tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning after blasting a solo home run - his second of the year - over the left center field fence.
UH regained the lead in the fifth inning with a run, thanks to a pair of extra-base hits. After Lucas blasted a double in the left center gap, Scalise launched a two-out, two-strike triple that bounced out of the glove of USM right fielder Stoy, scoring Lucas and giving the Cougars a 2-1 lead.
The Golden Eagles tied the game in the sixth inning with an extra base hit of their own. Cook led off with an infield single and raced all the around the horn on Stoy's two-out double in the left-center gap.