May 27, 2006
HOUSTON - Freshman righthander Luis Flores fired his first career shutout to propel the 11th-ranked University of Houston baseball team past No. 3 seed Tulane 6-0 and into the 2006 Conference USA championship game on Saturday during the fourth day of the C-USA Tournament at Reckling Park.
Flores faced only four batters over the minimum while scattering three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. The Corpus Christi, Texas, native, who improved to 6-3 with the win, retired 11 of the last 12 batters that he faced and put down 10 consecutive batters midway through the game.
It was the first shutout of his collegiate career and the fourth by a Cougar hurler this season. In fact, Flores has been part of a solid UH starting pitching corps which has been touched up for only two runs in three games heading into the championship game.
Meanwhile, the Cougar offense recovered from a slow start to pound out eight hits over the final two innings to break the game open. The Cougars scored two runs in the third inning without the benefit of a hit, and Flores kept the score there until UH erupted for three runs in the eighth and one more in the ninth inning.
Five different players recorded two hits in the game with all but one starter pounding out at least one hit in the contest. Junior outfielder Jake Stewart went 2-for-4 with a run, while junior DH Brad Lincoln batted 2-for-5 with a solo home run. Junior infielder Josh Stirneman batted 2-for-4 with an RBI, while sophomore outfielder Bryan Tully went 2-for-3 with a run. Senior infielder Isa Garcia also finished the day 2-for-5 to lead the Cougar offense, which outhit Tulane 13-3.
Tulane starter Stephen Porlier collected the loss and fell to 7-4 after giving up two unearned runs with two strikeouts and seven walks in six innings of work.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 39-19 and will face No. 1 seed Rice in the championship game at 1 p.m., Sunday. The Owls were a 7-4 winner over Memphis in their first game Saturday.
The C-USA Championship game will be aired on tape delay at 7 p.m., Sunday, on CSTV (DirecTV channel 610) with Carter Blackburn calling the play-by-play action and former Major Leaguer Kevin Stocker adding color analysis.
In addition, all Cougar postseason games 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.
The Cougars struck for the game's first runs in the third inning without the benefit of a hit. After back-to-back walk to Travis Cougot and Stewart, Garcia lifted an infield popup with both runners moving on a hit-and-run. The Green Wave had a chance at the triple play, but Tulane second baseman Brad Emaus' throw to first base sailed into the dugout, scoring Cougot and allowing Stewart to move all the way to third base. Stewart then gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead after scoring on a wild pitch.
The score remained that way until the eighth inning when the Cougars broke the game open with three runs off six hits in the frame. Stirneman led off with a single through the left side and moved all the way to third on Tully's double down the left-field line. With the infield drawn in, Brett Logan lifted a single into shallow right field to score both runners.
The Cougar rally continued as both Stewart and Garcia reached on infield singles to load the bases. Matt Weston then ripped an RBI-single into left field to score Logan and hand UH a 5-0 advantage.
Lincoln gave UH its final run of the game, leading off the ninth inning with an opposite-field homer.