UH survives to meet A&M
With one monster swing of the bat, Connor Wong kept alive the University of Houston’s season.
Wong led off the ninth inning with a tiebreaking homer, and the Cougars added another run to beat Iowa 7-5 in a Houston Regional elimination game Sunday night at Schroeder Park.
The top-seeded Cougars (42-20) will play third-seeded Texas A&M at 12:04 p.m. Monday, needing to beat the Aggies twice to advance to the NCAA super regionals for the fifth time in school history.
Here’s even more incentive: With Davidson upsetting No. 2 national seed North Carolina in the Chapel Hill Regional, the Houston Regional winner could be in position to host the best-of-three super regional later this week.
It took a monster shot by Wong over the 390-foot sign in straightaway center field to offset an impressive blast by Iowa’s Jake Adams that tied the game at 5 in the eighth.
Adams, who leads the nation with 29 home runs, sent the first pitch from Joey Pulido in the bottom of the eighth high into the air and over the left-center field wall. Adams stopped for a few moments to admire the shot and then flipped his bat as he began his home run trot.
Before Wong’s homer in the ninth, Iowa reliever Josh Martsching had not allowed a run in the postseason, a span of 102/3 innings.
Grayson Padgett was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, including an insurance run on a double in the ninth. Corey Julks went 2-for-4 and is hitting .462 (6-of-13) with three RBIs in three regional games.
Delayed 5 hours, 30 minutes by heavy rain in the Houston area, Sunday night’s game began as a pitchers’ duel.
UH righthander Mitch Ullom retired of 12 of 13 through four innings. Iowa righthander Drake Robison allowed three hits - and a run on a sacrifice fly by Wong - through five innings.
All it took was one inning for things to unravel for both pitchers.
For Ullom, it was the fifth. He allowed five straight hits and hit a batter as the Hawkeyes turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead.
Robison’s undoing came in the sixth. Connor Hollis and Jake Scheiner led off with singles, and Julks followed with an RBI double. Iowa made a pitching change, and Padgett sent the third pitch from sidearmer Nick Nelsen up the middle for a two-run single, putting the Cougars ahead 4-3.
After replacing Ullom with one out in the fifth, Pulido worked out of a second-and-third jam by getting Mason McCoy on a called third strike and Adams on a harmless fly ball to center field.
Iowa tied the game at 4 in the sixth. Robert Neustrom led off with a double that left fielder Tyler Bielamowicz had trouble handling at the wall. Neustrom advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground ball by Grant Judkins.