Tiger Baseball Drops C-USA Series Opener To Houston, 9-2
May 7, 2004
HOUSTON - Houston used a first-inning grand slam by Rob Johnson to help defeat Memphis 9-2 in the Conference USA series opener between the two clubs Friday at Cougar Field. The Cougars (22-25, 13-9 C-USA) scored seven of their nine runs in the first two innings and starter Matt Varner allowed a run on eight hits in seven innings of work.
The first three Tigers (22-21, 10-11 C-USA) singled to open the contest, but Memphis could plate just one run off Varner in the opening inning. Shortstop Brent Dlugach singled in Chad House, but was left stranded along with Bill Moss after Varner struck out a pair of Tigers to end the frame.
The Cougars loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a hit batsmen in their half of the first and Johnson cleared them with a grand slam to give Houston a 4-1 lead. The slam was Johnson's fourth home run of the season.
Houston tacked on three more runs in the second to extend its lead to 7-1. Leftfielder Matt Farrington and Thanos Papavasiliou each had RBI doubles as the Cougars had five hits in the frame. Papavasilious was tagged out at the plate trying to score on single up the middle by Cole Bruce.
The Cougars tallied just two more hits off Memphis starter Jarrett Grube over the next five innings. The right-hander retired 12 straight at one point before surrendering a bloop single to Stuart Musslewhite in the sixth. Grube (7-4) finished with seven strikeouts including getting six on called strikes.
Varner walked the first two batters in the third, but came back to strike out the side to keep the Tigers at bay. Memphis got three two-out singles in the sixth, but Kyle Scott was thrown out at the plate to end the inning trying to score on Michael Lewis' single to left.
Varner (6-3) allowed base runners in all but one of his innings, but the right-hander forced the Tigers into three double plays and struck out a career-high nine in seven innings of work before giving way to Rickey Putman. Putman struck out two an in inning of work.
Nick Bott belted a two-run homer off Tiger reliever Zach Cook in the eighth to build the Houston lead to 9-1. Scott doubled in the ninth for Memphis and scored when Lewis reached on an error by Cougar shortstop Patrick Gaylord.
House and Moss each extended hitting streaks to seven and 10 games, respectively, with first-inning singles. Farrington had three hits to lead the Cougars in that category. The Tigers continue their series with Houston Saturday with first pitch of game two set for 7 p.m.