Baseball Uses Long Ball to Win Tulane Series Opener

    Junior infielder Josh Stirneman blasted a career-best two homers in Friday's 8-3 win over No. 18 Tulane.
    Junior infielder Josh Stirneman blasted a career-best two homers in Friday's 8-3 win over No. 18 Tulane.
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    April 7, 2006

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    HOUSTON - The University of Houston baseball team blasted six home runs to set a Cougar Field record on the way to an 8-4 win over No. 18 Tulane on Friday in the opener of a Conference USA series.

    Junior infielder Josh Stirneman and senior outfielder Matt Weston each led the way with a pair of solo homers. They became the first Cougar sluggers to blast multiple home runs in a game since Kevin Roberts at Texas A&M on May 11, 2005.

    Junior righthander Brad Lincoln and freshman catcher Luis Flores also added solo shots to help the team top the previous facility record of five set against Ohio State on March 14, 1999.

    The Cougars battled to a 2-1 lead after the first three innings before scoring five runs during the middle three frames to take control of the game. The Green Wave threatened with three runs in the ninth and runners on first and second but junior reliever Shea Hancock forced a fly ball to end the threat and give the Cougars their seventh win in the last eight games.

    Stirneman finished the night 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs, while Weston batted 2-for-3 with two homers to lead the Cougar offense, which outhit Tulane 10-6.

     

     

    On the mound, Lincoln dominated the Green Wave, scattering three runs (two earned) off four hits with nine strikeouts in 8.1 innings and won for the sixth straight time to improve to 7-1 this season. He also recorded at least seven strikeouts in a game for the 10th consecutive start.

    The Clute, Texas, native did not allow a Green Wave hit until the sixth inning and did not allow any earned runs until the top of the ninth inning.

    Lincoln also helped his own cause at the plate, batting 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs.

    Tulane starter Sean Morgan collected the loss and fell to 4-4 after giving up seven runs (six earned) off nine hits with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings.

    The series continues at 7 p.m., Saturday before wrapping up at 3 p.m., Sunday. Fans and media should note that the starting time for Sunday's game was pushed back to accommodate College Sports Television's coverage of the game to a national television audience. It will be the first time in 2006 that the Cougars have been featured on television.

    Carter Blackburn will call the play-by-play action for CSTV while former Major Leaguer Kevin Stocker will provide color analysis.

    In addition to the television coverage, 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.

    Fans also should be aware of several promotions and parking advisories for this weekend's series.

    Friday's game will be Greek Night at the ballpark. UH fraternities and sororities will be recognized with prizes being given away for the most spirited Greek organization.

    On Saturday, fans should prepare for a busy day on the UH campus. Saturday will be Alumni Baseball Reunion Night as former Cougar players return to UH.

    In addition to the Cougars' 7 p.m., contest against Tulane, the Houston Dynamos will host a home soccer match at 7:30 p.m. at UH's own Robertson Stadium with campus events also scheduled at the Wortham Theater and the Moores School of Music.

    Due to the anticipated high attendance and need for parking at these events, the Athletics Department has designated parking lots 16C and 16D (directly across Cullen Blvd., beyond the right-field and centerfield fence of Cougar Field on both sides of Elgin St., lots 15A and 15 G (directly south and east of the Athletics/Alumni Center) and lot 15H (directly west of the John Hoff Tennis Courts off Elgin St.) for baseball fans.

    These lots will be available at no charge for attendees of the baseball game.

    The University of Houston Athletics Department would like to request that all fans planning to attend Saturday's game adjust their arrival time to well in advance of the start as traffic flow may be slower than usual. While adequate parking has been made available for baseball fans, late-arriving fans may be forced to pay for parking in lots that have not been reserved for baseball attendance.

    To further alleviate fans' concerns, the gates to Cougar Field will open at 5 p.m. Again, fans are encouraged to make plans to come to the ballpark early, get a good parking spot and watch both teams take batting practice prior to Saturday's game.

    Following Sunday's game, fans will be able to Meet the Cougars in a postgame autograph session.

    Sophomore righthander Ricky Hargrove will take the hill for the second game of the Tulane series. This season, Hargrove has compiled a 3-2 record with 41 strikeouts and a 2.10 ERA in 51.1 innings of work. In addition, his innings pitched, wins, strikeouts totals and opposing batting average (.225) are second among all UH hurlers.

    While this will be his seventh start of the 2006 season, it will be his fifth weekend start after entering the rotation at UC Irvine on March 11.

    Hargrove allowed three runs off eight hits with two strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work during the middle game of the East Carolina series on April 1. However, he did not pick up a decision in the Cougars' 13-4 win in Greenville, N.C.

    Hargrove threw a perfect eighth inning to help lead the Cougars to a 12-8 win over McNeese State on April 5 at Cougar Field. With the Cougars clinging to a 9-8 lead and a runner on first with no outs, Hargrove induced a fly ball and two strikeouts to end the threat and pick up his first hold of the season.

    Tulane righthander Brandon Gomes is expected to start Saturday for the Green Wave. This season, Gomes has compiled a 3-4 record with 37 strikeouts and a 3.52 ERA in 53.2 innings of work.

    The Cougars struck for the game's first run in the second inning when Stirneman led off with a towering home run to right center.

    Tulane answered in the next half inning when Matt Riser's sacrifice fly to center field plated Seth Henry who led off with a walk.

    UH responded with another run in the bottom of the third inning. After leading off with a single to right field, Matt Farrington moved into scoring position following a groundout and advanced another base on a deep fly ball to right field. Lincoln then helped his own cause with a sharp single to left field that fell just out of reach of a diving Riser in left field.

    The Cougars took advantage of the long ball in the fourth inning to push their lead to three runs. Flores led off with a home run to left field, and Weston followed with another shot over the wall in right center for a 4-0 UH lead.

    It was the second time this season that the Cougars launched back-to-back homers. Dustin Kingsbury and Lincoln accomplished the feat in the third inning at Arizona State on Feb. 19.

    Weston and Stirneman struck again in the sixth inning with two more long balls. Stirneman led off with another solo shot to right field, while Weston followed one batter later with a slicing home run down the left-field line.

    In the seventh inning, Lincoln blasted the first pitch he saw over the wall in left center for an 8-1 UH lead.

    Tulane added three runs in their final at bat, courtesy of solo homers from Nathan Southard and Brad Emaus, and an RBI-single from Nate Simon, but that would be as close as the Green Wave would get the rest of the way.

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