March 31, 2006
GREENVILLE, N.C. - University of Houston junior righthander Brad Lincoln struck out a season-high-tying 12 batters and allowed only one unearned run in eight innings of work to help lead the Cougars to a 4-3 win over East Carolina on Friday in the opener of a Conference USA series at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Lincoln, who struck out at least seven batters for his ninth straight start, collected the win and improved to 6-1. The Clute, Texas, native recorded the third double-digit strikeout performance of the season and the fifth of his career and struck out at least one batter in six of the eight innings he worked.
In addition to his pitching, he also helped his own cause, batting 2-for-4 with a run and RBI. Freshman infielder Travis Cougot batted 2-for-4 with a run while senior outfielder Matt Weston added an RBI.
The Cougars (17-12, 4-0 C-USA) rallied from an early deficit and scored single runs during each of the final three innings to take the lead for good and then held off a furious ECU rally in the bottom of the ninth to earn the win.
ECU starter T.J. Hose picked up the loss and dropped to 3-2 after giving up three runs (two earned) off six hits with three strikeouts in 7.1 innings.
ECU's Jake Smith went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, while centerfielder Jay Mattox batted 2-for-4 with a run to lead the Pirates offense, which outhit UH 10-8. Infielder Ryan Wood batted 2-for-4 in the losing effort.
The Cougars continue the series at 5 p.m. (CST) before wrapping it up at 11 a.m. (CST), Sunday. Both games can be heard live over the Internet at www.UHCougars.com with former UH letterwinners Nick Torina and Pat Cauley calling all the action. Fans also can follow play-by-play action by clicking on the "Live Stats" link on the schedule at www.UHCougars.com.
Sophomore righthander Ricky Hargrove will take the hill for the second game of the East Carolina series. This season, Hargrove has compiled a 3-2 record with 37 strikeouts and a team-best 1.76 ERA in 46.0 innings of work. In addition, his innings pitched, wins, strikeouts totals and opposing batting average are second among all UH hurlers.
While this will be his sixth start of the 2006 season, it will be his fourth weekend start after entering the rotation at UC Irvine on March 11.
Hargrove struck out a career-best eight batters while scattering five hits and one run over seven innings to help lead the Cougars to a 4-1 win over Marshall in the second game of a C-USA series on March 25 at Cougar Field.
Hargrove has compiled a 1.50 ERA with three strikeouts in six innings of relief against the Pirates. He made his only career appearance against ECU in the Cougars' first game of the 2005 C-USA Tournament at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss.
ECU will counter with sophomore southpaw Dustin Sasser. This season, Sasser has posted a 4-3 record with 23 strikeouts and a 2.38 ERA in 41.2 innings.
The Pirates (17-11, 1-3 C-USA) struck for the game's first run in the third inning when Drew Schieber scored on Smith's sacrifice fly to right field.
In the fourth inning, the Cougars tied the game with a run of their own. Dustin Kingsbury blasted a double in the left-center gap and moved up a base when a pickoff attempt sailed into center field. Lincoln then helped his own case with a single through the right side to knot the game at 1-1.
The score stayed that way until the seventh inning when UH grabbed its first lead of the game. Lincoln reached on a fielder's choice and moved all the way to third base on Josh Stirneman's high chopper over ECU first baseman Adam Witter's head. Luis Flores drew an intentional walk, and Lincoln scored the go-ahead run when Weston lifted a sacrifice fly into center field.
One inning later the Cougars added a much-needed insurance run. Cougot started the rally with a single through the left side and moved into scoring position following Jake Stewart's sacrifice bunt. Isa Garcia drew a walk and, with both runners moving on the pitch, ECU reliever Kevin Rhodes uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Cougot to race all the way home from second base for a 3-1 UH lead.
The Pirates rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth on Brandon Henderson's two-out, two-run single and threatened for more with runners on the corners. But Boone forced Dale Mollenhauer to fly out to left field to end the rally and the game.