April 7, 2002
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The fifth-ranked University of Houston baseball team used solid relief pitching and efficient hitting Sunday to take a 7-3 win over East Carolina in the finale of a Conference USA series at Harrington Field.
Cougar relievers Danny Zell and Jesse Crain combined to hold the Pirates scoreless with only one hit over the final 5.2 innings as the Cougars avoided being swept for only the second time in school history.
Zell collected his third straight win to improve to 3-0 after allowing only one hit with four strikeouts in 3.0 innings of work. Crain collected his team-leading fifth save of the year with 2.2 innings of hitless relief for the sixth-highest total in school single-season history. In addition, the San Jacinto Junior College product ran his consecutive inning scoreless streak to 23.2 innings.
ECU starter Jason Mandryk dropped to 5-0 after giving up eight hits and four runs in 4.1 innings.
Houston (23-10, 8-4 C-USA) pounded out 14 hits in the game with Thanos Papavasiliou going 4-for-4 with a run. Michael Bourn went 3-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases, while Keith Whatley and Hyung Cho added two hits apiece.
For the first time in the series, ECU got on the scoreboard first with a run in its first at-bat on Darryl Lawhorn's RBI-double to left field.
UH tied the game at 1-1 in its next at-bat. Crain led off with a walk and moved all the way to third when Papavasiliou lined a shot off the leg of Mandryk. Cooley then grounded into a double play but Crain scored easily from third base to knot the game.
Brett Cooley struck again for the Cougars in the fourth inning with an RBI-groundout. Snyder was hit by a pitch and moved to third on Papavasiliou's single through the right side. Cooley then rapped a sharp ground ball but beat the throw to first on the attempted double play combination to give UH a 2-1 lead. That lead would be short-lived, though. Bryant Ward led off the ECU fourth inning with a single through the right side, and Warren Gaspar followed with his fourth home run of the year over the right field wall for a 3-2 Pirate lead.
UH struck back with a pair of runs in the fifth inning, thanks to back-to-back RBI singles from Crain and Papavasiliou and added to their lead with two more runs in the sixth on Whatley's RBI-single and a throwing error on an errant pickoff attempt from ECU reliever Kieran Mattison.
Cooley added another run on the UH scoreboard in the eighth inning with a monster solo home run to left field for his team-leading seventh of the year.
The Cougars return to action Tuesday night when they play host to No. 16 Texas A&M in a 7 p.m. contest at Cougar Field. The game starts a nine-game, 16-day stretch that doesn't see UH leave the Houston area until April 26.