After a series-opening loss in Orlando on Friday evening left Houston a season-high three games below .500, it looked as though the Cougars might be about ready to pack it in for the year. A trio of pitchers said, "Not so fast."
On Saturday, Jordan Lewis threw a complete game, six-hit shutout, with seven Ks, and the Cougars cruised to a 5-0 win. This came on the heels of a seven-inning, two-run, 10-strikeout performance for Lewis last weekend, which earned him Conference USA pitcher of the week honors. The junior has gone five consecutive starts with at least 6 innings pitched, and two or fewer runs allowed, lowering his season ERA to 3.06.
In Sunday's rubber match, Jared Ray, making his second start of the year after missing the 2010 season, threw five innings of two-hit, one-run ball. Finishing off the game was football kicker Jordan Mannisto, who made his team-leading 19th pitching appearance. Mannisto threw four innings of effective relief, the only mark against him a two-run blast from UCF masher Jonathan Griffin. The 8th inning bomb cut the Houston lead to 4-3, but a Knight error plated Caleb Ramsey in the top of the 9th to increase the lead to two. Central Florida got a runner on with one out in the bottom of the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate, but Mannisto induced a 4-6-3 double play to seal the deal.
The series victory moved the Cougars into a tie with idle Rice for second place in Conference USA with a 9-6 mark. This coming weekend will see UH and Rice face off in the Silver Glove Series at Cougar Field. Southern Miss has a two-game conference lead at 11-4, but the Golden Eagles will have to go through both the Cougars and the Owls between now and the end of the season.