Houston Loses Conference Championship Opener

An unconventional day at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Florida met the Houston Cougars and the Tulane Green Wave as they got the American Athletic Conference Championship play underway.

The first game of the day saw the two middle-rank teams, four and five, combine for twenty-four runs in a game that took nearly four hours . . . The second game saw the top-ranked team get run-ruled in seven innings 11-1 by the last seed in the championship, so anything seemed possible on day one.

Robert Gasser took the mound for Houston and he and his counterpart for the Tulane Green Wave worked quickly and moved the game along with few, if any, baserunners.

The Cougars got their first hit in the fifth on a Ryan Hernandez single to left . . . Two batters later, Will Pendergrass snuck a single through the right side and the Cougars had a threat mounting . . . But a double play started by the shortstop ended the inning.

Tulane played small-ball in the sixth and took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice bunt after two singles started the inning and a sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position.

Hernandez hit a two-out solo home run to left-center in the seventh to tie the game on a 0-1 pitch.

The Green Wave countered with a two-out solo home run of their own in the seventh to take the lead again.

Tulane went to the bullpen with one out in the eighth, but the Cougars fate was the same: stymied by solid pitching.

Tulane added two more runs in the eighth as they go to Gasser late, he exited after 7 1/3 innings and ten strike outs . . . Ben Sears took the mound with a runner on second and eventually ended the inning without further damage.

Tulane shut down Houston in the ninth to claim the 4-1 victory . . . Hernandez (2-for-3) was the only Cougar with multiple hits, he had two of the Cougars four hits.

The Cougars will return to action on Wednesday in Clearwater, they will face the loser of tonight’s game between South Florida and Wichita State . . . First pitch will be 47 minutes after the final out of the game that starts at 2pm CT . . . Expect to see Jaycob Deese on the mound for Houston as they seek to continue their season with a win. –

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