May 4, 2003
HOUSTON - After Louisville scored six runs in the first three innings, University of Houston reliever Ryan Wagner slammed the door on the Cardinal batters as the Cougars took a 9-7 win in the finale of a Conference USA series at Cougar Field on Sunday.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 6-3 lead off eight hits through the game's first three innings. However, Wagner kept UL in check the rest of the way and gave the Cougar offense time to erupt in the middle three innings. The Yoakum, Texas, native struck out a career-high 11 batters with only three hits and one walk allowed in a personal-best 5.1 innings of relief.
Wagner struck out the first four and five of the first six batters that he faced. He also recorded at least one strikeout in each inning and retired the side on strikes twice.
With the win, he improved to 3-5 overall and boosted his season strikeout total to 106, the fifth-highest total in UH single-season history. He and teammate Brad Sullivan became the first hurlers in Cougar history to throw 100+ strikeouts in the same season.
After falling behind by three runs through the first third of the game, the Cougars took control of the game with five unanswered runs in the middle three frames.
Hyung Cho went 3-for-5 with a run, two RBIs and his team-leading 12th homer of the season. With those numbers, he extended his hitting streak to a UH season-best 12 straight games.
Michael Bourn batted 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and three stolen bases, and Travis Tully finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs and a pair of RBIs. Making his first start in the field since Feb. 27, 2001, Sullivan - who was the winning pitcher in Friday's series opener - batted 2-for-3 with a double and two runs while starting at second base, and Nick Bott batted 2-for-4 with a run and RBI.
UL reliever Jon Harbridge dropped to 0-1 after giving up three runs (two earned) off two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 28-21 overall and remained in fourth place in Conference USA with a 16-8 record. However, UH moved to only two games behind league leader Southern Mississippi, which dropped two of three at East Carolina over the weekend. Louisville dropped to 28-17 overall and 11-12 in C-USA.
The Cougars scored the game's first run in their first at-bat. After drawing a walk, Tully raced all the way home on Cho's double down the left field line.
However, Louisville answered with three runs in the next half-inning on back-to-back doubles from Nick Haley, who scored two with his two-bagger, and Dave Williams Jr.
The Cougars cut into the lead in the bottom of the second with another single run. Sullivan slapped a double down the left field line and scored on Bott's RBI-single.
Louisville added three more runs in the third when J.T. LaFountain blasted a three-run shot over the left field wall.
UH cut into that lead in the bottom of the third with a run when Cole Bruce's RBI-groundout plated Tully, who led off with a single to center field.
The middle three innings would be dominated by the Cougars, who totaled five runs in those frames. After Bott reached on a two-out single, Bourn blasted a 2-0 offering from Cardinal reliever Brian Halford over the left field wall.
In the fifth, Cho continued the Cougars' power surge when he crushed the first pitch he saw over the center field wall to tie the game at 6-6.
Sullivan again started the Cougar rally in the sixth inning, reaching on a single up the middle, stealing second and then advancing to third on an errant throw from UL catcher Luis Pardo. After Bourn walked and stole second, Tully slapped a single up the middle to score both runners and give the Cougars the lead for good.
The Cardinals added another run in the ninth when Williams scored on a wild pitch, but that would be as close as Louisville would get.
Williams went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI to extend his hitting streak to 22 straight games, while LaFountain finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs.
With final examinations hitting the UH campus, the Cougars will take a break from midweek games and not return to action until next weekend when they meet C-USA rival Memphis in Tennessee. The series begins at 7 p.m., Friday, continues at 2 p.m., Saturday and wraps up at 1 p.m, Sunday.
Fans can catch the action from all three games on KAXF 88.3 FM or over the Internet at www.UHcougars.com with pregame slated to begin about 15 minutes before the first pitch. Fans can also catch the action batter-by-batter by visiting www.UHcougars.com and clicking on the "Gametracker" link on the Daily Calendar at the bottom of the main page.