Back to the future

Cougars past and present laced up their cleats and took to the field on Saturday for the annual alumni baseball game.

This year’s game coincided with Fan Appreciation Day, and the fans were treated to a 4-0 victory for the current ball club.

“Today was fun,” head coach Todd Whitting said. “To get this group of players together and this group of people together once a year is a lot of fun.”

Among the more than 50 alumni on hand were former big-league hurlers Doug Drabek and Woody Williams and current Major Leaguers Michael Bourn (Braves), Chris Snyder (Astros), Jesse Crain (White Sox) and Brad Lincoln (Pirates).

“We have a tremendous tradition in baseball at the University of Houston,” Whitting said.

“All those guys in the big leagues that were here today represent the program, and to come out and support, it’s phenomenal.”

The current Cougars jumped on the alumni early when senior catcher John Cannon came in to score from third on an errant pitch by Lincoln, the alumni starter, in the first inning, and two more in the third inning thanks to defensive miscues by the alumni.

Jordan Lewis, Jordan Mannisto and Mo Wiley combined to shutout the alumni in the seven-inning exhibition. Lewis earned the win, allowing one hit and striking out four in four innings.

The atmosphere may have been laid back, but the alumni took notice of the changes going on not just around the ballpark, but with the team as well.

“I think Todd (Whitting) has done a good job at trying to get stuff in the stadium, and trying to get fans back in,” said Drabek, a former Houston Astro and class of ’83 alumnus. “Most importantly, he knows what he wants as far as players to get them back to a level where they can compete and try to make it back to the World Series.”

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