April 24, 2002
HOUSTON, Texas - After a shaky first inning, the pitching rotation for the University of Houston baseball team settled down to face the minimum number of batters over the final eight innings in a 6-1 win over Sam Houston State on Wednesday at Cougar Field.
SHSU scratched for a run off two hits in the first inning of UH starter Keith Whatley. However, that would be the last hit that the Bearkats would enjoy for the rest of the game. Whatley and relievers Gene Flores, Brian Henderson, Nathan Mitchell and Jesse Crain combined to face only 24 batters in the final eight innings.
The Bearkats managed runners in the third and fifth innings after a UH infield error and walk, respectively. However, Whatley retired the former runner on a pickoff to first base and the latter on a ground ball double play to keep the streak alive. Altogether, the Cougar bullpen combined to retire the last 17 batters in the game.
Whatley earned his team-leading eighth win of the season and improved to 8-3 after giving up only two hits and one unearned run in five innings. SHSU starter Dustin Craig dropped to 1-3 after allowing eight hits and four runs in 3.1 innings.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 30-12 overall and surpassed their win total from the entire 2001 season. SHSU dropped to 18-27 overall.
While the Cougar pitching was the story of the game, the UH offense continued its recent hot play. For the fourth straight game and the ninth in the last 10 games, the Cougars pounded out double-digit hits with 14 against the Bearkats.
Brett Cooley went 3-for-3 with a run, double and two RBIs to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games and has now hit safely in 20 of the last 21 games. Michael Bourn, Chris Snyder, Cole Bruce and Stuart Musslewhite all added two hits apiece in the winning effort.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, UH tied the game in the first when Cooley's sacrifice fly to center field plated Bourn, who led off the inning with an infield single.
In the fourth, UH struck for three runs as Cooley and Thanos Papavasiliou led off with back-to-back doubles for a 2-1 Cougar lead. Musslewhite and Bruce added RBI-singles as the Cougars took control of the game.
UH scored its final two runs in the seventh inning on a Cooley's RBI-single and Bruce's walk with the bases loaded.
The Cougars return to action this weekend when they travel to Conference USA rival Saint Louis for a three-game series. The series begins at 3 p.m. Friday and continues with 1 p.m. games on Saturday and Sunday. The game times for Friday and Saturday were moved up several hours earlier this week due to school activities on the SLU campus this weekend.