The top-seeded, hosting Houston Cougars opened up the NCAA regionals throwing its ace, Trey Cumbie, but the Iowa Hawkeyes peppered him with 10 hits and maintained a lead that the Cougars could never overcome, falling 6-3 Friday night at Schroeder Park and sending themselves to the losers’ side of the bracket.
“I thought we played hard tonight; there’s a difference between losing and getting beat,” Cougars head coach Todd Whitting said. “I thought we just got beat. Iowa was as advertised. I thought they were a really, really good team. We just never had a chance all night to get in a rhythm offensively or on the mound.”
Picking up the loss, Cumbie (10-1, 2.04 ERA) got tagged for four earned runs, which was the most earned runs he had allowed in a game since April 29, in 5 1/3 innings.
Iowa struck first in the top of the second inning when center fielder Ben Norman drove a single to left field, scoring Tyler Cropley for a 1-0 lead.
Cougar center fielder and Clear Brook alum Corey Julks made an amazing catch, running to his right and crashing into the wall in left-center to rob Hawkeye Chris Whelan of a multiple-base hit that would have scored at least two more runs.
“We played hard, gave it all we got, but just fell short,” Julks said. “So, it’s always tough when you play hard and you just can’t pull it out.”
Iowa scored again on back-to-back doubles in the top of the fourth inning. First, Norman mashed a double to right, and the next batter, Mitchell Boe, lined another double to left-center, scoring Norman from second base for a 2-0 Iowa lead.
The Cougars finally made some noise in the bottom of the fourth inning when Julks lined a one-out double off the left field wall, reaching base in his 22nd straight game.
Later, shortstop Cooper Coldiron drove Julks home on a sac bunt to first base, giving the Cougars their first run of the game.
Designated hitter Joe Davis found the plate, scoring on a wild pitch later in the inning to tie the game at 2-2.
In a possible turning point in the game for Iowa, they were able to end the threat in the inning by finding Jared Triolo in no-man’s-land between third and and home for the out.
Big Ten hit leaders Mason McCoy, Jake Adams and Robert Neustrom made the Cougars pay by reaching in order in the top of the fifth, first with McCoy driving a double down the right field line.
Adams was hit by a pitch and Neustrom drove in McCoy on single and the Hawkeyes regained the lead. Adams came around to score scored on a single and the Hawkeyes led 4-2.
Pearland Oiler product Connor Wong, brought the Cougars to within one run, 4-3, being driven in on a sacrifice fly by Jake Scheiner in the bottom of the fifth.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, there was a stunning turn of events for Friendswood Mustang alum Lael Lockhart Jr.. He was ruled out by first base umpire Fred Cannon, on an rare appeal for not touching the first base bag, on what would have been a game-tying RBI double hit to the left-center field wall.
“I haven’t seen a video or a replay yet, but (Cannon) was pretty sure that he missed it,” Whitting said. “It was obviously a big turning point in the game. We would’ve tied that thing up, and we still would have had a runner on second base with two outs.”
The Hawkeyes delivered the knockout blow in the top of the eighth inning scoring two runs on back to back RBI singles.
The Coogs will look to keep their postseason hopes alive as they play fellow Day 1 loser, Baylor, 2 p.m. today back at Schroeder Park.