May 16, 2003
HOUSTON - After being given a one-run lead entering the seventh inning, University of Houston reliever Ryan Wagner did the rest in leading the Cougars to a 6-5 win over 17th-ranked Southern Mississippi in the second game of a Conference USA series at Cougar Field.
The sophomore righthander struck out eight of the 13 batters that he faced in three shutout innings on the way to his record 13th save of the 2003 season. He struck out two batters every inning and retired the side on strikes in the ninth inning to preserve the victory.
After Southern Miss tied the game in the top of the sixth inning with three runs on Clint King's homer, the Cougars answered in the bottom of the frame with a run of their own. Matt Farrington led off with a double down the right field line and moved to third base on Sam Mitchell's sacrifice bunt. Stuart Musslewhite followed with a double in the right center gap to plate Farrington and give the Cougars the lead.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 31-24 overall, 18-11 in C-USA, and moved into sole possession of fourth place in the latest league standings. With Tulane's 5-4 win over East Carolina on Friday, the Cougars will play as either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed at next week's C-USA Tournament and will face ECU in a first-round showdown.
UH starter Garrett Mock improved to 5-3 after scattering five runs off four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of work.
Farrington led the Cougars offense, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs and falling just a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Musslewhite batted 2-for-4 with the tie-breaking RBI, and Michael Bourn finished the night 2-for-4 with a run.
As they did in the series opener, the Golden Eagles jumped ahead on the scoreboard with a run in their first at-bat. Marc Maddox walked and then raced all the way to home after Brad Willcutt smashed a two-out double into the left center gap on a full count.
However, the Cougars jumped ahead in the second inning when Farrington blasted a two-run homer over the left field wall. It was the first collegiate home run for the Sugar Land, Texas, native.
In the fourth inning, USM knotted the game at 2-2 on Griff Israel's sacrifice fly, which allowed Jeff Cook to score from third base.
The Cougars took a 5-2 lead in the fifth inning with three straight hits. Travis Tully's double down the right field line scored Farrington, who led off the frame with a double. After moving to third on a wild pitch, Tully scored on Hyung Cho's infield single. Cho then raced all the way around the bases on Thanos Papavasiliou's double into the right center gap.
USM answered in the bottom of the frame with one swing of the bat, as King connected on a three-run homer over the left field wall to tie the game again at 5-5.
Cook batted 2-for-4 with a pair of runs for Southern Miss in the losing effort.
The series wraps up at 1 p.m., Saturday. Fans can catch the action 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.