BASEBALL CLAIMS CONFERENCE USA TITLE
May 18, 2002
HOUSTON, Texas - Chris Snyder's three-run home run in the first game of a Conference USA doubleheader lifted the University of Houston baseball lifted the Cougars to a 4-2 win over TCU on Saturday at Cougar Field.
With that win, the Cougars claimed the C-USA regular-season title for the third time in the last four years and enter next week's C-USA Tournament as the No. 1 seed. UH (41-14) opens the postseason event with a 3 p.m. (CDT) contest against No. 8 seed Saint Louis on Tuesday in Kinston, N.C.
UH, ranked No. 10 in the latest Baseball America poll, is the only team in C-USA history to finish in first or second place every year of its league membership. The Cougars have now finished among the top two leaders in the team standings in each of the last six years.
In the nightcap, the Cougars scored four runs in the fourth inning after TCU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the frame on the way to a 6-1 win over the Horned Frogs.
However, TCU (29-27, 19-11) answered and took the lead with two unearned runs in the next half inning. Chris Meeks knotted the game at 1-1 after drawing a bases loaded walk and Walter Olmstead scored the go-ahead run on a Cougar wild pitch.
Michael Bourn and Keith Whatley started the Cougar rally in the fifth inning with back-to-back walks to lead off the inning. The duo then completed a double steal of second and third base before Snyder blasted a 1-1 offering from TCU reliever Chris Osentowski just over the right field wall.
Henderson collected the win for UH after throwing 1.1 perfect innings and improved to 2-0 this season, while TCU starter Patrick Newburn dropped to 4-3 after allowing three runs and two hits in four innings. UH reliever Jesse Crain threw a perfect ninth inning to earn his team-leading ninth save of the year.
Whatley went 2-for-2 with a run, while Snyder led all players with three RBIs. The Houston native also jumped into fourth place in UH single-season history with 63 RBIs this year.
In the nightcap, TCU took the lead first when Jared Lundeen blasted the first pitch from UH reliever Taylor Gartz to right field for a 1-0 lead.
However, UH struck for four runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks to three hits and two TCU errors. Snyder led off with a double in the right field gap and moved to third on Cooley's single to left field.
Crain then laced a sharp ground ball that TCU third baseman Mike Settle bobbled, allowing Snyder to score the tying run. Gabe Lucas followed with a sacrifice fly to right field that plated Cooley.
Cole Bruce reached on an infield single, stole second base and moved to third on an errant throw from TCU catcher Jonathan Marshall during the steal attempt, allowing Crain to score from third base.
Bruce eventually scored on Blair's infield sacrifice to cap the rally and give UH a 4-2 lead.
The Cougars added two more runs in the sixth inning on Blair's infield groundout and Anthony Scalise's RBI-single up the middle.
Gartz collected the win for the Cougars and improved to 1-1, while TCU starter Kyle Shoemaker fell to 7-5 after giving up five hits and four runs in four innings.
Snyder went 2-for-4 with a run, while Blair led all players with two RBIs.