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Saturday, December 9, 2023


Cougars to rematch Boilers after loss against Tar Heels


Junior pitcher Trey Cumbie had a strong outing, but it wasn’t enough for the Cougars to defeat the Tar Heels. Kathryn Lenihan / The Cougar

Houston lost to North Carolina on Saturday night in a 4-3 game that came down to the last at-bat.

After defeating Purdue with nine runs and 15 hits, Houston cooled off and managed just seven hits against North Carolina. A lack of closing out innings cost the Cougars, as three of the Tar Heels’ runs were scored with two outs in the innings.

Junior Trey Cumbie was on the mound for the Cougars and had his¬†pitch count driven up early.¬†Cumbie threw 42 pitches in the first two innings compared to North Carolina’s pitcher, freshman Gianluca Dalatri, who threw only 22 in two innings.

While trying to close out the second inning, a change-up toss was misplaced and hit for a two-run home run by Tar Heel freshman Zack Gahagan.

Cumbie gave up another run in the third inning but settled into a groove to throw four scoreless innings and end his game with only five hits, three runs and two walks allowed with nine strikeouts.

Sophomore Tyler Bielamowicz hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to put the Cougars on the board, but the team would not really heat up until the bottom of the seventh.

Seniors Connor Hollis and Cooper Coldiron got on base to start the inning, and a pair of badly thrown balls by the pitcher sent Hollis home.

Freshman Kyle Lovelace gave Coldiron a chance to run home, but a fantastic throw by the outfielder made it home to tag Coldiron out and end the inning.

Senior pitcher Joey Pulido replaced Cumbie in the eighth inning after Cumbie went over 100 pitches in the seventh inning. Pulido gave up one run in the eighth after walking one batter and allowing a hit into left field, making the score 4-2 for the Tar Heels.

The top of Houston’s order was up to bat in the eighth, but all three went out swinging to send the game to the ninth.

Pulido pitched the ninth inning and managed to keep the score 4-2 to give the Cougars a fighting chance with sophomore Lael Lockhart Jr., slugging junior Joe Davis and Hollis guaranteed at-bats.

Lockhart struck out to start the inning, but Davis hit a home run to make it a one-run game. Hollis then hit a fly out to center field to leave Houston with just one out remaining. Coldiron returned to the plate and made contact early with a foul ball but ended up striking out to end the game.

Houston and Purdue play tomorrow at noon on WatchESPN or ESPN3. The winner of that game will play North Carolina at 5 p.m. CT in the Chapel Hill Regional finals.

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