May 31, 2002
MESA, Ariz. - The old baseball saying goes that good pitching beats good hitting. University of Houston sophomore pitcher Brad Sullivan certainly proved that true on Friday during a 9-0 win over New Mexico State during the first game of the NCAA Regional at Mesa at Hohokam Park.
Sullivan, who was named to the Louisville Slugger/TPX All-America First Team on Friday, struck out nine batters with only six hits allowed while tossing his third shutout of the season against an Aggie squad, which was batting .323 as a team with 95 home runs entering the game. It was the first time this season that NMSU had been shutout.
With the win, the Nederland, Texas, native improved to 12-1 and has allowed only one run in his last 29.0 innings of work while lowering his ERA to a team-best 1.93 mark. His win total tied for the third-highest mark in UH single-season history and equaled the mark set by head coach Rayner Noble in 1983.
The seventh-ranked Cougars, who have now won 12 of their last 13 games, return to action at 4 p.m. (CDT) - 2 p.m. Arizona time - when they face the winner of the Arizona State-San Diego game, which began at 8 p.m. (CDT) Friday night.
The Cougar offense struck for three runs in three innings, including six in the first three frames, while pounding out 15 hits to give Sullivan a comfortable cushion. Brett Cooley went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs and blasted his 18th home run of the year in the first inning to give UH an early lead. With that homer, Cooley tied for the second highest homer total in UH single-season history.
Keith Whatley batted 3-for-5 with a run and RBI, while Hyung Cho, Thanos Papavasiliou and Stuart Musslewhite each rapped out two hits apiece. Musslewhite returned to the Cougar starting lineup after sitting out since April 26 with a shoulder injury suffered in an off-the-field incident.
NMSU (37-24) threatened for runs early, putting a runner on third base in the first inning and runners at second and third one inning later, but Sullivan induces a groundout and flyout to end both threats and seemed to grow stronger as the game progressed, retiring 16 of 18 batters midway through the contest.
The Cougars struck for the game's first runs with three in their first at-bat. After a Whatley single to center field, Cooley blasted a two-run homer over the right field wall. Papavasiliou followed with another single to center field and moved to second base on Jesse Crain's four-pitch walk.
Musslewhite then lifted a fly ball that fell into shallow left field, scoring Papavasiliou and giving UH a 3-0 lead.
Two innings later, the Cougars struck put another three-spot on the scoreboard thanks to some more power. After a walk to Cooley and Papavasiliou's second straight single, Crain blasted an 0-1 offering from Williams over the left field wall to push the Cougar lead to 6-0.