April 15, 2006
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - University of Houston senior outfielder Matt Weston went 3-for-5 with a homer and three runs to lead an 18-hit attack as the Cougars cruised to a 13-5 win over No. 22 Southern Miss on Saturday in the second game of a Conference USA series at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
UH jumped out to a 4-0 lead through the first two innings but saw the Golden Eagles rally and take the lead at 5-4 in the fourth inning. The Cougars would then score nine unanswered runs, including four runs in the top of the fifth inning, to win their second straight against USM and snap a three-series losing streak to the Golden Eagles.
A day after pounding out season-highs of 24 runs off 28 hits, the Cougars recorded 13 more runs off 18 hits, including seven for extra bases. Weston, who is a reigning Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, was one of six Cougars with multiple hits.
Senior infielder Isa Garcia batted 4-for-5 with a double, three runs and two RBIs, while junior DH Brad Lincoln batted 3-for-5 with a run, double and two RBIs. Junior outfielder Jake Stewart went 2-for-6 with two doubles, a stolen base and two runs, and sophomore outfielder Bryan Tully finished the day 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. Freshman infielder Travis Cougot also went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI in the winning effort.
UH sophomore reliever Ricky Hargrove came out of the bullpen to pick up his second win of the week. The Katy, Texas, native held USM to only three hits with five strikeouts over the final 5.1 innings to improve to 5-3 this season.
USM starter David Clark dropped to 3-1 with the loss after surrendering seven runs off eight hits with five strikeouts in four innings.
USM's Trey Sutton went 2-for-5 with a run, and RBI, while Toddric Johnson batted 2-for-5 to lead the Golden Eagles, who recorded 10 hits in the game. Brian Dozier also batted 2-for-3 with an RBI.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 24-14 overall, 9-2 in C-USA games and won for the 11th time in their last 13 games. Southern Miss dropped to 25-12 overall and 4-4 in C-USA games.
The Cougars will look to sweep the series at 1 p.m., Sunday. That game 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.
Freshman righthander Luis Flores will take the hill for the finale of the Southern Miss series on Sunday. It will be the eighth start of his collegiate career after moving into the weekend rotation against Monmouth on Feb. 26.
This season, he has pitched to a 3-2 record with 39 strikeouts and a 2.52 ERA in 50.0 innings. His ERA and .238 opposing batting average rank second among all UH hurlers.
Flores also is a regular in the Cougar lineup on the days that he does not pitch. This season, Flores has started all but one game to date while seeing time at catcher or first base on the days he does not pitch. Along the way, he has compiled a .281 batting average with seven doubles, a home run and 12 RBIs.
Flores was dazzling in front of a national television audience Sunday to help lead the Cougars to the series win over No. 18 Tulane. He allowed only two runs off five hits with eight strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work to lead the Cougars to a 6-2 win in the series finale.
Sunday's finale will be the first time that Flores has faced the Golden Eagles.
The Cougars struck for the game's first runs in their first at bat. Stewart led off with a double to right center and scored when Garcia lifted a double into left field. Two batters later, Josh Stirneman worked his way on with a walk, and Lincoln's looping RBI-single into shallow center field plated Garcia for a 2-0 UH lead.
UH doubled its lead in the next inning with two more runs off three hits. Cougot reached on a one-out infield single and moved all the way to third base on Stewart's second double of the day. Garcia then slapped an RBI-single down the right-field line to put runners on the corners. Stewart and Garcia then teamed up on a double steal of home and second base to push the Cougar advantage to 4-0.
USM cut into the UH lead in the next half inning, thanks to Michael Ewing's groundout that allowed Jody Blount to score from third base and Dozier's RBI-single to right field.
The scored remained that way until the fourth inning when the Golden Eagles grabbed their first lead of the series. Sutton's RBI-single to right field plated Ewing and pulled USM to within 4-3. Pinch hitter Luke Adkins then plated two runners with a sharp single to left field for a 5-4 USM lead.
However, the USM advantage would not be for long. In the next half inning, Garcia drew a four-pitch walk and moved all the way to third on a picture-perfect hit-and-run on Kingsbury's single through the left side. Kingsbury later appeared to be picked off and in a rundown between first and second, but a USM infield miscue allowed Garcia to race in from third base and knot the game at 5-5.
Weston then blasted a double into left center to put runners at second and third and knock Clark out of the game. Stirneman reached on a fielder's choice that allowed Kingsbury to score from third and hand the Cougars a 6-5 lead. Brad Lincoln then laced an RBI-double into right center to score Weston.
After Tully was hit by a pitch to load the bases and a groundout, Cougot reached on another fielder's choice that scored Lincoln from third base and handed the Cougars an 8-5 lead.
In the sixth inning, Weston blasted the first pitch he saw from USM reliever Ryan Belanger over the wall in left center for a 9-5 Houston lead.
In the eighth inning, the Cougars iced the game with three more runs. Garcia led off with a single to center filed and moved to third on Weston's looping single into right field. Stirneman then ripped a line drive up the middle to plate Garcia and allow Weston to move to third base. Bryan Tully then smashed a single into right field to score Weston and move Stirneman to third base. Tully then was picked off first base and was tagged out in a rundown between first and second base but not before Stirneman raced in to cap the scoring for the night.