May 27, 2005
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Junior southpaw Matt Farrington gave the Cougars a solid 7.2-inning start, and Justin Vaclavik thwarted a ninth-inning rally as the fifth-seeded University of Houston baseball team defeated fourth-seeded East Carolina, 6-4, Friday afternoon in day three of the 2005 Conference USA Tournament presented by PowerAde at Pete Taylor Park.
The Cougars (29-29) erased a 3-2 deficit after six with back-to-back doubles by Travis Tully and Kevin Roberts in the seventh. Dustin Kingsbury pushed the lead to two with a solo home run in the eighth, and added an insurance run in the ninth with an RBI-single to make it a 6-3 ballgame.
The Pirates, however, would not go away quietly as designated hitter Mike Grace reached on an error to start the bottom of the ninth, and pinch hitter Jamie Ray sparked a two-out rally with a looping single into shallow center field. Brian Cavanaugh then reached on an infield single that plated Grace to pull ECU to within 6-4 and kept the rally alive.
After Dale Mollenhauer's infield single loaded the bases, Vaclavik entered the game and retired Mark Minicozzi on a fielder's choice to end the game and collect his team-leading 12th save of the season.
Travis Tully went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double and RBI, which outhit the Pirates 14-9. Roberts went 3-for-4 with a run and double, while sophomore shortstop Dustin Kingsbury batted 3-for-5 with a run, home run and three RBIs. Bryan Tully finished the day 2-for-4 with a run.
ECU starter Ricky Brooks, who was an All-Conference USA First Team selection, collected the loss and dropped to 5-5 after giving up four runs (three earned) off 11 hits with six strikeouts in seven innings.
Mollenhauer went 2-for-5 as the only Pirate batter with more than one hit in the game.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 30-30 overall and will now face No. 1 Tulane at 9 a.m., Saturday morning in the semifinals. The Cougars must defeat the Green Wave twice on Saturday to advance to the C-USA Tournament championship game. East Carolina dropped to 35-24 and must now wait and hope for an NCAA Regional bid.
Saturday morning's game can be heard live on the Internet at www.UHCougars.com with former UH letterwinners Nick Torina and Pat Cauley calling all the action. In addition, fans can follow all the play-by-play action by clicking on the "Live Stats" link at www.UHCougars.com.
Should the Cougars defeat the Green Wave in the first game, the two teams will square off again at 4 p.m. with a berth to the championship game on the line.
The Cougars grabbed the lead in their first at bat. Travis Tully led off with an infield single and moved to second following an ECU infield error. After moving to third on Kevin Roberts' single to center, Tully gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead on Dustin Kingsbury's single through the left side.
UH doubled its lead in its next at bat with another run off two hits. After leading off with a single to right field, Bryan Tully moved up a base on Bryan Pounds' single up the middle and advanced another base following a wild pitch. Chris Joseph then grounded out to second base but not before Bryan Tully raced in from third base for a 2-0 UH lead.
The lead vanished quickly in ECU's next at bat when Mike Grace blasted a two-run homer over the left-field wall to knot the game at 2-2.
In the fifth inning, the Pirates grabbed their first lead of the game when Billy Richardson, who led off with an infield single, scored on a two-out, Cougar error in the infield.
The Cougars regained the lead in the seventh inning with a two-out rally. After two quick outs started the frame, Brett Logan reached on an infield single and chugged all the way home from first base when Travis Tully laced an RBI-double into right field. Travis Tully then gave UH a 4-3 lead when Roberts blasted an RBI-double to the wall in right center.
Kingsbury gave UH a much-needed two-run cushion after blasting a lead-off homer over the left-field wall to start the eighth inning. In the ninth inning, the Cougars pushed their lead to 6-3 with another two-out rally. After back-to-back walks to Roberts and Brad Lincoln, Kingsbury slapped an RBI-single into center field to score Roberts.