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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Owls baseball hands heartbreak to Houston

For the second time in three games, the Cougars (3-2) witnessed a walk-off victory for the home team. Unfortunately, Wednesday’s game against Rice (3-2) was on the road.

With one out and a runner at third, Rice sophomore second baseman Jimmy Comerota put down a perfect safety-squeeze bunt back to Houston sophomore pitcher John Touchton. The play at the plate was close, but the umpire called the runner safe, giving Rice the 12-11 win.

Houston held an 11-9 lead headed into the bottom of the ninth with Touchton, its closer, in the game in hopes of winning the first of two games in the Silver Glove Series. The inning was painful from the first at bat when Rice freshman outfielder Chad Mozingo hit a hot shot up the middle that ricocheted off Touchton’s glove and hit him in the neck. The ball rolled off the mound and allowed Mozingo to reach first. Touchton tried not to let the incident get to him.

"It kinda just left a bruise at that point," Touchton said. "Actually, it made me just a little more intense after that."

Houston head coach Rayner Noble stood by his decision to leave Touchton in the game.

"He told me he was OK," Noble said. "If he told me he wasn’t OK I would have pulled him out of the game."

Rice sophomore third baseman Diego Seastrunk would reach on an error by Houston sophomore centerfielder Zak Presley. After a strikeout and a walk, Owls junior catcher Adam Zornes singled to drive in the tying runs and set Comerota up for the winning play.

The Cougars’ offense started the game firing on all cylinders. After scoring six runs in the first inning, they added one in the second and two in both the third and fourth. At the end of the fourth inning, the Cougars held an 11-5 lead.

After UH batted in the fourth, the umpires called a glare delay because the sun’s reflection off the Hilton hotel just past centerfield was directly in the batters’ view. The offense never regrouped after the 18-minute delay, and the Cougars only earned one more hit in the last five innings. Noble didn’t think the delay bothered the team at all.

"(Rice) just started pitching," Noble said. "That was the difference."

Freshman shortstop Blake Kelso finished with three hits, including a double, two runs and two RBIs while Jake Stewart had two doubles and two runs. The duo opened the game with back-to-back doubles.

The Houston bullpen did its best to keep the team in the game, especially freshman Ty Stuckey, who pitched 2 2-3 innings and gave up just one hit.

"He was outstanding," Noble said. "I though it was one of the high points of the evening."

The Cougars will head to Minute Maid Park this weekend to compete in the annual Houston College Classic. They will play Texas Tech at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oklahoma at noon Saturday and Texas at 6 p.m. Sunday.

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