June 7, 2002
AUSTIN, Texas - In a game that featured two of the nation's top pitching staffs, Brad Sullivan and the University of Houston proved a little stronger Friday night during a 2-0 win over No. 3 Texas at Disch-Falk Field during the NCAA Super Regional at Austin.
With one more win, the sixth-ranked Cougars (48-15), who tied the school single-season record in wins, will advance to the NCAA College World Series for the third time in school history but the first time since 1967. The series continues at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Disch-Falk Field.
Sullivan, who was recently named a First-Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and is one of three finalists for the Rotary Smith Award given to the nation's top player, was masterful tying a UH single-season record with his 13th win of the year. The Nederland, Texas, native scattered seven hits over 7.1 innings while striking out six and recording his team-leading fourth shutout of the year to lower his ERA to 1.82
With his impressive totals, Sullivan (13-1) extended his consecutive inning scoreless streak to 24.2 straight innings - the fourth longest streak in UH history - and has allowed only one run in his last 36.1 innings of work.
Texas (51-15) entered the series with the nation's best ERA at 2.78 while the Cougars recorded the third-best mark at 3.02. Both teams lived up to that billing with a combined 14 hits scattered between the two teams in the game.
Keith Whatley came off the bench to lead the Cougar offense by going 2-for-3 with a run and RBI. He was the only UH player to tally more than one hit in the contest.
The Cougars struck for the game's first run in the fourth inning, the fourth straight contest that UH jumped out ahead of its opponent. Keith Whatley led off the frame with a picture-perfect bunt down the third base line and moved into scoring position on Michael Bourn's infield groundout. Sam Mitchell then rapped a ground ball to UT shortstop Michael Hollimon, who attempted to retire a running Whatley at third base.
However, Hollimon's throw hit Whatley in the back and rolled down the left field line, allowing the UH baserunner to score and give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
The score would remain that way until the ninth inning, although the Longhorns threatened to knot the game in the fifth inning. A walk to Michael Hollimon and back-to-back single by Kalani Napoleon and Tim Moss loaded the bases with two outs, but Sullivan forced Omar Quintanilla to fly out to deep center field to end the threat.
In the seventh inning, Napoleon struck again with his third hit of the night and moved to second after Moss drew a two-out walk. But Sullivan forced Quintanilla to fly out again to left field and stop the rally.
UH added a valuable insurance run in the ninth inning. Stuart Musslewhite led off with a single to left field and moved to second base following Hyung Cho's sacrifice bunt. After a strikeout, Whatley slapped a single to left field to plate Musslewhite and give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
UH reliever Jesse Crain, who entered the game in the eighth inning and induced two quick outs, gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth but retired the side to collect his 10th save of the year.
Napoleon went 3-for-4 to pace Texas offensively, while Brandon Fahey batted 2-for-4.