GREENVILLE, N.C. -Blake Kelso collected a game-high four hits and Bryan Pounds drove in three runs as Houston walked away with an 8-5 victory and a 2-1 series win over No. 23 East Carolina in Conference USA play Sunday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Bryan Tully picked up his first win of the season for the Cougars (14-7, 2-1 C-USA) after allowing one hit over four innings with three walks and four strikeouts. Houston starter Donnie Johnson went 4.1 innings and had a no-hitter going until Drew Schieber singled in the bottom of the fifth. He finished the game allowing four runs (earned) on two hits with four walks and three punch outs. Jared Ray faced three batters in relief surrendering a run on one hit with two walks before handing the ball to Tully. Chase Dempsay closed out the ninth getting two Pirates to fly out.
Justin Bristow dropped his first game at ECU (15-6, 1-2 C-USA) falling to 3-1 on the season. He allowed seven runs (four earned) on eight hits with two walks and tied a career-high with seven strikeouts. Josh Ruhlman made his 12th appearance out of the bull pen working two innings giving up one run on five hits with one strikeout. Freshman Seth Simmons worked the final 1.2 frames fanning three, walking one with one hit.
Houston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first behind back-to-back hits. Jake Stewart doubled to right-center with one out then crossed home when Pounds singled through the left side.
The Cougars extended its lead to five, 5-0, in the third. Kelso singled to center with one out and moved to second when Stewart was plunked by a Bristow pitch. Pounds picked up two more RBI when he doubled to left center scoring Kelso and Stewart. Jimmy Cesario followed with a walk and Ryan Lormand reached on a fielder's choice pushing Pounds to third. Felix Fanaselle reached on an error scoring Pounds and Lormand to cap the inning.
ECU used a five-run fifth inning to tie the game at five. Dustin Harrington drew a one-out walk to start the rally, which was followed by a Schieber single to left. Jamie Ray singled through the left side scoring Harrington and moving Schieber to second before Eldridge walked to load the bases. Ryan Wood drew a bases loaded walk that plated Schieber. Stephen Batts pushed another run across with his single to right, scoring Ray. Brandon Henderson drew the fourth walk of the inning with the bases loaded plating Eldridge. Kyle Roller's two-out walk tied the game sending Wood home.
Austin Goolsby wasted little time in regaining the lead for the Cougars as he smacked his first home run of the season to left field. Kelso singled through the right side scoring Zack Presely making the score 7-5.
Houston added an insurance run in the seventh on Matt Murphy's single giving the Cougars an 8-5 edge.
The Pirates will close out their 13-game home stand on Wednesday night when they host Campbell at 6 p.m.