UConn Baseball moves to the loser’s bracket of the American Athletic Conference Tournament after Houston took a 7-6 win over the Huskies at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida.
The Huskies were strong offensively, recording 12 hits and getting three RBI from both shortstop Anthony Prato and right fielder Isaac Feldstein, but defensive play late in the game did them in, potentially aided by a swirling wind.
“We can’t let the elements beat us,” head coach Jim Penders said.
Starter Tim Cate did not have his best stuff against a strong Cougar offense, allowing five runs on eight hits in 5 1⁄3 innings. He struck out four and walked three.
“[The weather] encourages you to pitch down more but [Cate] couldn’t do that,” Penders said.
Houston drew first blood with a run in the second, but the Huskies responded in the third.
Center fielder Keith Krueger reached on an error by Cooper Coldiron and after a hit-and-run, Prato came up with runners on the corners. Coldiron bobbled a sure double-play ball, allowing Krueger to score.
Feldstein then came to the plate and took Cougars’ starter Mitch Ullom deep to the opposite field for a 4-1 UConn advantage.
Isaac Feldstein just murdered this baseball pic.twitter.com/hOQkp37Cdz— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) May 25, 2017
Houston started its crawl back in the bottom half of the third when Tyler Bielamowicz hit a home run over the left field wall to make it 4-2.
In the fifth, American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Jake Scheiner tripled off the top of the wall in right to tie it up. He tried to take the lead himself, but Aaron Hill threw him out at home.
The Cougars pulled ahead when Corey Julks led off the sixth with a blast of his own to left-center field.
The Huskies were able to re-tie the game on a RBI single from Prato in the seventh to set the stage for a great finish.
Houston regained the upper hand after the seventh inning stretch on a critical error. Feldstein lost track of the ball in the corner at the last second, allowing Connor Wong to reach second. Wong scored when Connor Hollis bunted up the third base line and Ryan Radue, looking to retire the lead runner, committed a throwing error.
The Cougars got an insurance run in the eighth and while UConn got a run in and the tying run to second with one out, the Huskies failed to get it across and ended with the loss.
UConn (32-24) will play Memphis in an elimination game on Friday at 11 a.m. Wills Montgomerie is the probable starter.