MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- A big seven-run third inning gave the University of Houston baseball team a comfortable 10-0 early lead over Conference USA rival Memphis on Sunday afternoon, but freshman starting pitcher Gene Flores was sharp enough not to need all the generous offensive support on the way to a 10-2 league win on the road in Millington, Tennessee. With the victory the Cougars won their eighth in a row and remained in sole possession of first place in the C-USA standings with with a perfect 6-0 conference ledger.
After Houston's first two freshman starting pitchers combined to hold the Tigers to just one earned run in 11.0 total innings with 19 strikeouts in the first two games of the weekend series, Flores followed suit in Sunday's finale. The right-hander from Corpus Christi, Texas, scattered seven hits over 7.0 innings and struck out a career-high eight batters to earn his second win of the season, both of which have been in his last two starts.
The lone run Flores surrendered was a solo home run by Tiger designated hitter Ryan O'Mally to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, but the homer was far too-little, too-late, as the Houston offense had already ran away with the contest early in the first three innings. As the team had done all weekend, Houston continued to use an aggressive running game and built a 10-0 lead after the first three frames. UH stole five bases on the day and a total of 19 over the weekend, all without getting caught once by the Memphis defense.
In the top of the first Michael Bourn led off with a walk, stoles second and scored on a single by Josh Snook. In the second Sam Mitchell led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a hit by Hyung Cho and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Keith Ahrens. Bourn then singled in Cho from second and the Cougars were quickly up 3-0.
In the third Houston effectively put the game away, scoring seven runs on six hits to make the score 10-0. The big blows were a single by Keith Whatley that scored two and a three-run home run by freshman rightfielder Sam Mitchell. The Cougars went on to finish the day with 14 hits off five Memphis pitchers. UH has now stolen 26 bases in a row dating back to the start of the win-streak on March 14.
The Cougars are now 14-16 overall and unbeaten in C-USA play. Before putting its 6-0 league record on the line next weekend at Cincinnati, Houston will face crosstown rival Rice in game four of the Sterling Bank Silver Glove Series on Wednesday, March 28. First pitch from the Owls' Reckling Park will be at 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live around the world on the internet at www.tsrnsports.com.
Conference USA Baseball Linescore Houston 127 000 000 -- 10 14 0 Memphis 000 010 010 -- 2 9 0 Gene Flores, Bryan Harris (8) and Chris Snyder. Bill Edwards, Andy Whitten (3), Joshua Padgett (7), Joshua Payne (8), Matt Fry (9) and Barrett Smith (9). WP- Flores (2-4). LP - Edwards (1-2). Save- none. 2B- UH: Snyder; UM: Uggla, Thomas. 3B- none. HR- UH: S.Mitchell (2), UM: O'Mally (2). Time- 2:48. Att- 245. Team Records- Houston 14-16, 6-0; Memphis 12-9, 1-5.