Houston holds off rally by Pirates

Published 5:10 am Sunday, March 16, 2003

By Staff
From Houston Sports Information
HOUSTON -- A day after being shut out, the University of Houston baseball team scored only two runs off eight hits. However, pitchers Danny Zell and Ryan Wagner made certain that was enough offense for the Cougars on the way to a 2-1 win over East Carolina on Saturday in the second game of a Conference USA series at Cougar Field.
Late Friday night, East Carolina's Mike DeJesus grounded into a double play but it allowed John Poppert to score from third base as the Pirates took a 1-0 win in 12 innings over Houston.
Zell scattered seven hits and only one run with three strikeouts in seven innings of work to improve to 5-1 this season. It was the sixth consecutive start that Zell has given the Cougars at least six innings of solid work.
Meanwhile, Wagner slammed the door on the ECU batters, throwing two innings of one-hit relief with three strikeouts in his team-leading fourth save of the year. ECU starter Ashley Capps dropped to 3-1 after allowing two runs off five hits in only three innings.
The series has been an offensive struggle for both squads, who have each managed a total of two runs during the first two games.
The series wraps up at 1 p.m. today at Cougar Field. UH sophomore righthander Garrett Mock (0-2, 3.97) is scheduled to start for the Cougars with ECU's starter to be determined.
Fans can also catch the action batter-by-batter by clicking on the "Gametracker" link on the "Daily Calendar" at the bottom of the main page.
The Cougars struck for their first runs of the series with a two-spot in the third inning. Nick Bott led off with a double in the left center gap and came around to score on Gabe Lucas' one-out, RBI single to left field. Hyung Cho then laced a single to right center, allowing Lucas to move all the way to third base.
Thanos Papavasiliou lifted a deep sacrifice fly to right field to cap the Cougar scoring and give UH a 2-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the seventh inning when ECU put its mark on the scoreboard. Jamie Paige laced an RBI-single through the left side of the Cougar infield to cut the UH advantage in half.
UH junior third baseman Hyung Cho went 3-for-4 to raise his team-best batting average to .342, while Papavasiliou went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Bott batted 1-for-2 with a run and double, his first extra-base hit of the season.
ECU's Ryan Norwood went 3-for-4 with a double to lead the Pirates, who rapped out eight hits in the game.
In Friday's game, Poppert struck out to lead off the 12th inning, but Wagner's wild pitch got away from catcher Brett Logan, allowing Poppert to reach first. Poppert then moved all the way to third when Luke Cherry's ground ball rolled through the left side of the Cougar infield on a hit-and-run. That set the stage of DeJesus' twin-killing and the lone run of the game.
It was the Cougars' second loss of the year in extra innings after dropping a 4-2 decision to UC Santa Barbara in the season opener in Malibu, Calif., on Feb. 7. It was also the Cougars third shutout loss this season and their fifth loss in the last six games.
The loss spoiled the performance of UH starter Brad Sullivan, who did not pick up a decision. Sullivan struck out a UH season-best 12 batters while scattering nine hits in 10 shutout innings of work. It was his third consecutive start with at least 11 strikeouts.
With his third strikeout of the game, Sullivan also became only the second player in school history to record 300 strikeouts during his career. He finished the night with 309 strikeouts and trails only Shane Nance, who holds the Houston career record with 388 strikeouts.
ECU starter Davey Penny matched Sullivan pitch-for-pitch before leaving after seven complete innings. Penny limited the Cougars to just three hits and struck out seven while walking only two. He has now pitched 21 consecutive shutout innings.
Despite striking out five batters in two innings, Wagner dropped to 0-3 after giving up a hit and a wild pitch in two innings of relief. ECU reliever Glenn Tucker improved to 2-1 after allowing only three hits with five strikeouts in three innings of shutout relief.
Jamie Paige went 3-for-5, while Ryan Jones batted 2-for-5 to lead the ECU offense, which outhit the Cougars 10-6. Six different UH batters recorded one hit in the game. Junior outfielder Gabe Lucas saw his season-best six-game hitting streak come to an end after going 0-for-5.