NCAA Regional At Mesa Champions
June 2, 2002
MESA, Ariz. - Keith Whatley went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs on the way to Most Outstanding Player honors as the University of Houston baseball team took an 8-3 win over No. 15 Arizona State on Sunday in the championship game of the NCAA Regional at Mesa at Hohokam Park.
With the win, the Cougars advanced to the NCAA Super Regional against third-ranked Texas in a best two-of three series, starting Friday at Disch-Falk Field. It marked the second time in the last three seasons that UH advanced to an NCAA Super Regional.
A native of Atlanta, Texas, Whatley batted .750 (8-for-12) with four runs and five RBIs to help lead a Cougar offense which posted at least 10 hits and scored in the first inning of all three Regional games. In addition to Whatley, Chris Snyder batted 4-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs and blasted his 15th home run of the year in the fourth inning to five the Cougars a 6-2 cushion.
UH reliever Ryan Wagner improved to 2-1 with the win after scattering three hits and one run with four strikeouts in 4.2 innings of relief. Although ASU loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, UH reliever Jesse Crain retired the side without allowing a run and extended his consecutive inning scoreless streak to 33.0 innings, the second longest in Cougar history.
ASU starter Robbie McLellan dropped to 7-6 after giving up eight hits and five runs in 3.1 innings.
For the third straight game, the Cougars took the lead with runs in their first at-bat. Bourn led off the game with a sharp single to center field and moved into scoring position when McLellan's pickoff attempt went wild. Whatley then laced another single to center field, scoring Bourn for a 1-0 UH lead.
Snyder followed with an infield single, and Whatley moved to third base on Crain's flyout to left field. With two outs, Mitchell then laced a ground ball in the infield, but ASU shortstop Dustin Pedroia's throw across the diamond pulled first baseman Jeremy West off the bag, allowing Whatley to score.
Cho capped the Cougar scoring in the first with a single to left field that scored Snyder and gave UH a 3-0 lead before its defense hit the field for the first time.
ASU pulled to within one with a pair of runs in the second inning. Nick Cadena slapped a double to left center to scored Jeff Larish but Rod Allen was thrown out at home on the relay throw from Crain after running through a stop sign from third base coach Mike Rooney.
Cesar Castillo followed with a single up the middle to score Cadena and put the score at 3-2.
UH rebuilt its lead with another three-spot in the fourth inning. Bourn started the rally with a single through the right side and came around to score on Whatley's double down the left field line. After an ASU pitching change, Snyder blasted a two-run home run over the left field wall for a 6-2 Cougar lead.
In the fifth inning, Castillo reached after Cooley lost the ball in the sun on an infield popup and eventually came around to score on Pedroia's RBI-single.
Snyder and Cooley led off the UH seventh inning with back-to-back singles and moved up a base on Crain's sacrifice bunt. After an intentional walk to Mitchell, Cho ripped a ground ball in the infield and beat out the double play as Snyder scored to give UH a 7-3 lead.
The Cougars added an insurance run in the ninth inning on Cameron Blair's RBI-single up the middle.