May 6, 2006
HOUSTON - After falling behind early, the 10th-ranked University of Houston baseball team erupted for five runs during the final two innings to take a 6-2 win over UCF in the middle game of a Conference USA series at Cougar Field on Saturday night.
Trailing 2-1 entering the seventh inning, the Cougars took advantage of three hits and a pair of walks to score four unanswered runs and added an insurance run in the eighth to win their seventh consecutive C-USA series in 2006.
In the seventh inning, Brett Logan drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position following Travis Cougot's sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Isa Garcia worked his way to a 2-0 count off reliever Derek Abriola before closer Dominic Petracca came out of the bullpen. After seeing two pitches from Petracca, Garcia laced an RBI-single up the middle to score Logan and tie the game at 2-2.
Garcia stole second base to move into scoring position and Dustin Kingsbury gave the Cougars the lead for good with an RBI-single up the middle. Following another UCF pitching change, Matt Weston drew a walk, and both runners scored easily when Brad Lincoln smashed a double to the wall in left center.
That would be all the run support that sophomore righthander Ricky Hargrove would need to collect the win. The Katy, Texas, native allowed only one unearned run while striking out a career-best nine batters in 8.1 innings of work. After giving up single runs in the second and third innings, Hargrove settled down, facing only two batters over the minimum during a five-inning stretch midway through the game.
UCF closer Dominic Petracca collected the loss after giving up two runs off two hits without recording an out.
Garcia went 2-for-5 with a run and RBI, while Lincoln finished the night with a team-high two RBIs. Freshman catcher Luis Flores also added a solo home run in the fourth inning, his third straight game with a long ball.
Dave DiNatale and Ryan Bono each went 2-for-4 with DiNatale adding an RBI to lead the Golden Knights who outhit UH 9-8.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 33-17 overall, 16-4 C-USA, while UCF dropped to 23-26 overall, 5-12 C-USA.
The Cougars wrap up the series at 1 p.m., Sunday at Cougar Field. The 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.
On Sunday, fans will enjoy Senior Day as UH honors its 2006 class and Fan Appreciation Day with ice cream sundaes available at the ballpark. Senior infielders Jeremy Aranda, Josh Aranda and Isa Garcia, catcher Brett Logan, pitcher/outfielder Matt Farrington, outfielder Matt Weston will be recognized in pregame ceremonies.
Flores will take the hill for the finale of the Tulane series on Sunday. It will be the 11th start of his collegiate career after moving into the weekend rotation against Monmouth on Feb. 26. This season, he has pitched to a 4-2 record with 56 strikeouts and a 3.04 ERA in 68.0 innings. His ERA, win total, strikeouts and .251 opposing batting average rank third among all UH hurlers.
Like Lincoln, Flores also is a regular in the Cougar lineup on the days that he does not pitch. This season, Flores has seen time at catcher, first base, DH, right field and left field on the days he does not pitch.
Along the way, he has compiled a .291 batting average with seven doubles, five home runs and 20 RBIs. He is the only player in 2006 to enjoy two multi-home runs games, bashing two at No. 22 Southern Miss on April 14 in the first game of that series and, most recently, at Texas A&M on April 18.
In his last start Flores scattered three runs off seven hits with a career-best 10 strikeouts in only 5.2 innings to help the Cougars take a 9-4 decision over UAB in the nightcap of a doubleheader on April 29. He struck out at least one batter in all but one inning with two strikeouts coming in four of the six innings that he started.
Sunday's finale will be the first time that Flores has faced the Golden Knights.
Sophomore righthander Brett Bordwine is slated to start the series finale for UCF. This season, Bordwine has compiled a 2-4 record with 23 strikeouts and a 4.33 ERA in 27.0 innings of work.
The Golden Knights grabbed their first lead of the series in the second inning on Steve Stropp's two-out, solo home run to left field.
UCF pushed its lead to 2-0 in the next half inning on DiNatale's RBI-single to left field.
The Cougars trimmed that deficit in the fourth inning when Flores blasted a 1-0 offering over the left-field wall.
After the Cougars grabbed the lead for good in the seventh inning, UH added an insurance run. After reaching on a one-out, bunt single, Cougot advanced to second when a squeeze attempt misfired and Josh Stirneman was tagged out in a rundown between third base and home. Jake Stewart then ripped an RBI-single up the middle to cap the Cougar scoring for the night.