The American Conference Championship got underway Tuesday morning in Clearwater, Florida with the first pitch between the UConn Huskies and the Houston Cougars . . . The ability for any team to determine its path can be realized by just playing one game at a time, keep winning, you keep playing, lose a game, and the slope becomes much steeper to climb.
Houston sent Lael Lockhart Jr. to the mound for the morning start, and Lockhart seemed to have adapted well . . . A mistake by Lockhart in the second inning found its way to the left field seats, but Lockhart was very much in control scattering just four other hits through six innings of work as Lockhart took the game into the seventh inning.
Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Jared Triolo got the Cougars on the scoreboard with a no-doubter to left to cut the lead to 2-1 . . . The homerun was part of a 2-for-4 morning for Triolo . . . Joe Davis evened the score at two with a solo homerun of his own to left-center in the top of the sixth inning.
The Cougars took the lead in the top of the seventh when Kobe Hyland singled home Grayson Padgett to make the score 3-2 . . . Padgett had reached base when he was hit by a pitch and then stole second.
In the bottom of the seventh Lockhart surrendered his fifth and final hit, a homerun to left, which tied the game at three . . . Sean Bretz entered the game and eventually ended the inning, making way for Fred Villarreal . . . Villarreal pitched a scoreless eighth sending the tied ballgame to the ninth.
Houston loaded the bases in the top of the ninth but could not push a run across . . . In the bottom of the ninth, a leadoff single would eventually end up on second, and that run would be driven home by UConn third baseman David Langer with a single to center off of Villarreal to give the Huskies a 4-3 win.
The Cougars will play Wednesday at 2pm Houston time, the opponent is not yet known, but it will be the loser of the East Carolina and Wichita State game which starts forty-seven minutes after the Cougars game ended, so we will know the opponent soon enough. –