June 1, 2002
MESA, Ariz. - Danny Zell scattered three hits with only one run in the first 5.2 innings and the University of Houston offense continued its hot streak with 13 hits as the seventh-ranked Cougars took an 8-4 win over Arizona State during day two of the NCAA Regional at Mesa.
With the win, the Cougars advanced to the NCAA Regional championship game at 3 p.m. (CDT) Sunday - 1 p.m. Arizona time - against the winner of the Arizona State-San Diego game Saturday night. UH also posted the second highest win total in school single-season history in improving to 46-15 overall.
Fans can catch Sunday's action on KYND 1520 AM beginning with the pregarme show at 2 p.m. (CDT).
Throwing 5.2 innings in his longest outing of the year, Zell got out of a jam in the first inning with runners on first and third and would retire 14 of 15 batters during one stretch. The Houston native improved to 8-1 this season.
Meanwhile, the UH offense pounded out 13 hits in the game, the second straight contest in the NCAA postseason that the Cougars recorded double-digit hits. Sam Mitchell went 3-for-4 with a run and RBI to lead the attack, tying his career high in hits. Keith Whatley went 2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs, while Jesse Crain batted 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs.
As they had in the first game of the NCAA Regional, the Cougars struck for the game's first run in their initial at-bat. Michael Bourn led off with a bunt single down the first base line and moved all the way to third base when Esposito's pickoff attempt got away from first baseman and Jeremy West and rolled down the right field line.
Whatley then laced a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Bourn to score and giving UH a 1-0 lead.
The scored remained that way until the fifth inning when UH struck for two runs, thanks to two hits and a key ASU error. Crain led off with a single to left field and moved to third on Mitchell's looping double to right field.
Hyung Cho lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Crain for the Cougars' second run of the year. Cameron Blair then lifted a fly ball into shallow right field that kept Mitchell at third base, but ASU right fielder Andre Ethier's throw to home plate bounced over the head of catcher Cesar Castillo and rolled to the backstop, allowing Mitchell to score.
ASU scored its first run of the game in the sixth inning on Ethier's RBI single to center field.
However, UH quickly regained the momentum in the bottom of the inning with three more runs. Jesse Crain ripped an 0-2 pitch down the right field line to score Whatley and Brett Cooley and would come around to score on Mitchell's single to left field.
In the seventh inning, Cho blasted the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for his sixth home run of the year and Whatley smashed an RBI-single to right field to score Bourn for an 8-1 lead.
ASU cut into the lead in the eighth inning on Ethier's RBI single and made things interesting in the ninth inning with two runs off a hit and two UH errors. However, Crain induced a fly ball to shallow left field to end the game and propel the Cougars into Sunday's title game.