A breezy, 63 degree, sunless afternoon gave way to some sun rays but not much offense at Schroeder Park on Sunday . . . Houston and Northwestern State would play eleven innings and would score a total of three runs between them.
Left-hander Lael Lockhart Jr. got the start on the mound for the Cougars on Sunday and went five really strong innings only allowing two hits and striking out eight batters . . . Lockhart’s pitch count had reached eighty six when he exited the game, his stuff was good enough that he likely could have gone deeper into the game, but this early in the season there is no need to do more than he did, it’s a long season.
The Coogs started the scoring in their half of the second inning, and a more serious threat was thwarted when Brad Burckel, who drove in the first run of the game, was caught trying to steal third, and a matter of pitches later Kyle Lovelace was caught trying to steal second.
The game moved along quietly until the eighth when Northwestern State would tie the game at one by manufacturing a run . . . Seeking a possible third straight ninth inning victory in the teams final at-bat, Joe Davis led off the ninth with a strong single. With a pinch runner on first, Grayson Padgett laid down a perfect bunt to get the pinch runner to second and set the stage for more late inning heroics . . . Brad Burckel would come to the plate with two outs, after a wild pitch moved runners to second and third, but would strike out to send the game to extra innings.
Drama mounted in the tenth inning. The Cougars defense with two outs committed back to back infield errors allowing the Demons to hang just close enough as they eventually loaded the bases . . . With a full count, Demons batter J.P. Lagreco was seemingly hit by a pitch that would have walked in the go ahead run. However, Lagreco was called out for not getting out of the way of the pitch, officially ruled batter’s interference, he would subsequently mouth off to the umpire and get tossed out of the game, which then led Demons head coach Bobby Barbier to get in on the act and after a heated exchange with the umpire, Barbier would join Lagreco in the clubhouse for the rest of the game.
In the eleventh inning, the Cougars bullpen would give up a one out solo homerun that would prove to be the difference . . . Jared Triolo led off the bottom of the inning with a base hit. Grayson Padgett hit a sharp line drive single to right field, and when the right fielder bobbled the ball, Triolo was able to advance on to third base . . . The Cougars would strand runners at second and third to end the game.
The Cougars hit the road now to play McNeese in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Tuesday night before returning home for a three game set with Arizona next weekend.