May 23, 2002
University of Houston hurler Brad Sullivan, the 2002 Conference USA Pitcher of the Year, was masterful on the mound for nine innings, striking out eight while leading the Cougars to a 7-1 victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Thursday (May 23) afternoon in the second round of the C-USA Tournament in Kinston, N.C.
Including today's contest, five Houston pitchers have combined to allow just one run on 10 hits in the first two games of this year's annual tournament.
The No. 1-seed Cougars (43-14) advance and will now face either Tulane or Southern Miss, who play on Friday, May 24, at 3:00 p.m. (CST), in the third round of the double-elimination tournament on Saturday, May 25, at 8:00 a.m. (CST) at Grainger Stadium.
The Cougars struck for the game's first run in the first inning when Jesse Crain knocked in Chris Snyder with two out. After retiring the first two hitters in Houston's order, Southern Miss starting pitcher Shea Douglas surrendered back-to-back walks to Snyder and Brett Cooley.
The Golden Eagles tied the game in the bottom half of the opening inning on a solo shot by Jeff Cook, which proved to be the only run Sullivan would serve.
"Brad did an awesome job," said Houston head coach Rayner Noble. "He made a poor pitch to Cook in the first tinning but after that it was all Brad Sullivan."
"I just made a bad pitch," added Sullivan after the game. "After that I knew I had a full ball game ahead of me, and I knew I had to relax."
And relax he did. While the Cougar offense continued to score runs through timely hitting to relieve the pressure, Sullivan, who improved to 11-1 overall on the year and lowered his earned run average to a mere 2.08, paced Houston.
Gabe Lucas, making his first appearance of the tournament with a start in left field, smacked his first home run of the year to left on a 1-2 pitch in the top of the second to give the Cougars their initial lead of the game.
Third baseman Hyung Cho then put Houston up on top, 3-1, with a solo shot down the left field line - a home run that hugged the foul pole - on a 2-0 pitch with one out in the top of the sixth.
That home run -- Cho's fifth of the season -- proved to be monumental in the bottom half of the sixth when Southern Miss threatened to break the game open. With one out, Matt Sheperd reached base safely on a fielding error by Houston catcher Chris Snyder, then advanced to second on a single by Cook. After retiring the next batter for the second out of the inning, Sullivan hit Griff Isreal in the backside to load the bases before getting Clint Stoy to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice.
Houston added two more runs in the top of the seventh on a lead-off triple to center by Michael Bourn, who came around to score two batters later on Cooley's monsterous home run to right-center.
The Cougars added one more in the eighth after designated hitter Bruce Cole led off the inning by reaching base on a fielding error by Southern Miss first baseman Israel. Cole advanced to second on a groundout by Cho, and after taking third on a wild pitch, crossed the plate on a sacrifice bunt by Lucas.
Bourn scored Houston's seventh and final run in the top of the ninth on a Snyder RBI-single to center. While Sullivan collected the win for Houston, Southern Miss' Douglas dropped to 10-3 on the year after allowing five earned runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings of work. Bourn and Lucas each collected two hits for Houston, while Bourn led all players with two runs scored. Today's win also marked the twelfth time this season two-or-more Cougars have connected for home runs in the same game. - Uhcougars.com -