The UConn Huskies run in the AAC Tournament ended at the hands of Houston Saturday, 13-3. The Cougars advance to their second-straight championship game while the Huskies will now need an at-large bid to get into the NCAA Tournament.
Husky starter Mason Feole did well at the beginning, pitching to the minimum of nine batters through the first three innings. But he ran into trouble in the fourth when Houston loaded the bases with just one out. He did a good job limiting the damage to just one run.
Things began to unravel for the freshman in the fifth inning, however. The Cougars threatened with runners on second and third with one out, and this time Feole could not get out of the jam.
Connor Hollis sliced a ball into center field that plated both runners, increasing the lead to 3-0. The Cougars weren’t done. Jake Scheiner joined the action with a double to left field that brought Hollis home.
UConn coach Jim Penders went to his bullpen to stop the bleeding but it was to no avail. Sam Nepiarski allowed a two-run home run to the first batter he faced and the Houston lead grew to 6-0.
Offensively, the Huskies bats never got going. They were held without a baserunner for the first three innings and didn’t produce a hit until the fifth.
Their best chance for runs came in the sixth inning after John Toppa and Anthony Prato reached with just one out. Despite the heart of the lineup coming up, UConn couldn’t scratch a run across to cut into the lead.
Houston added two more runs in the seventh and five in the ninth to push the score to 13-0. The Huskies would add three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but it was too little too late as the Cougars came away with the 13-3 victory.
UConn turns its attention to Monday at noon, when the selection committee will announce the field of 64 for the NCAA Tournament. Winning two games in the tournament should be enough to secure an at-large bid for the Huskies, even if a lopsided loss doesn’t look good on the resume.