HOUSTON -- The University of Houston baseball team snapped its five-game losing streak in a big way on Wednesday, Feb. 21, defeating crosstown rival and No. 1 Rice by the score of 14-5 at the Owls Reckling Park.
En route to the win the Cougars established a new season high for base hits (17), bettering a mark by two that the team had set in its previous game just three days before at No. 3 ranked LSU. The hitting, and more importantly timely hitting on Wednesday, helped UH snap a five game losing streak that the team accumulated while playing four consecutive games against teams ranked among the in the Top 3 in the nation (three games at LSU and one game vs. Rice on Feb. 13). Wednesday was Houston's fifth-straight game against a Top 3 opponent but from the beginning it appeared that the outcome might be different from UH's recent results.
In the top of the first inning Houston put two men on base with a Rice fielding error and a base hit by Gabe Lucas. Sophomore catcher Chris Snyder then connected for a three-run home run to left field to give the Cougars a lead it would not relinquish. UH then added seven more runs in the next two frames to take a 10-1 lead for starting pitcher Keith Whatley. The junior left-hander from Atlanta, Texas, scattered five hits and struck out four while working 5.0 innings to earn his first career win.
Whatley also helped the team's cause at the plate playing as the designated hitter. He collected a career-high three base hits, including a pair of doubles against three different pitchers on the No. 1 team in the country. Snyder also posted a banner day, finishing with a career-high 5 RBI to go along with a 3-for-4 day that included the home run and a double. True freshman Thanos Papavasiliou also got in the act, slugging three hits, driving in a run and scoring in his first career appearances at the plate while making his first-ever Division I start.
Houston improved to 4-7 overall while Rice fell to just 10-2. The Owls were paced by catcher Matt Cunningham who had a double while driving in three runs on the day. The teams are now 1-1 in their best-five game series for the Sterling Bank Silver Glove Trophy. The trophy is awarded annually to the winner of the series as the collegiate city champion.
The Cougars will next face regional rival Southwest Texas State in a three-game weekend series beginning on Friday, Feb. 23. First pitch with the Bobcats will be at 3:00 p.m. at Cougar Field. After playing 10-of-11 games on the road to start the 2001 season, the Southwest Texas series marks the start of a seven-game homestand for UH.
College Baseball Linescore Houston 325 001 300 -- 14 17 1 Rice 100 202 000 -- 5 6 3 Keith Whatley, Nathan Mitchell (6), Austin Faught (8), Brian Henderson (9) and Chris Snyder; Jeff Nichols, Philip Tribe (2), Nick Martin (3), Bubba Gentry (7), Dustin Warnecke (8) and Matt Cunningham. WP - Whatley (1-0). LP - Nichols (0-1). Save - none. 2B - UH: Snook, Lucas, Snyder, Whatley 2; RU: Porfirio, Cunningham; 3B - none. HR - UH: Snyder (3); RU: none. Time - 3:03. Att. - 2,716. Records - Houston (4-7); Rice 10-2.