Lael Lockhart’s RBI single in the seventh inning pushed across the go ahead run helping No. 18 Houston to a 5-3 win over No. 15 ECU Friday Thursday afternoon in the 2018 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championships at Spectrum Field. With the win, the Cougars (36-22) force an elimination game against the Pirates (41-16) on Friday at 10 a.m. (ET), which will be played on Robin Roberts Field.

How It Happened:
With the game knotted at three-all and the bases loaded, Lael singled to right field pushing across Tyler Bielamowicz for the would-be game-winning run. Houston would tack on another run with Joe Davis flew out to center field allowing Jared Triolo to cross home for a 5-3 advantage. The Cougars jumped out to an early two-run lead, 2-0, in the second frame on Bielamowicz’ base hit to left that plated Connor Hollis and Cooper Coldiron. ECU got a run back in the third on Bryant Packard’s single to center that scored Alec Burleson, who doubled to start the frame, making it a one-run game 2-1. But the Pirates gave the run back on Davis’ RBI single that scored Lockhart extending the lead to 3-1. ECU returned serve with runs in the fourth (Brady Lloyd double) and fifth (Andrew Henrickson’s sac fly) to tie the game at three.

Pirate Pitchers:
Jake Agnos (4-4) suffered the loss in relief allowing two runs (both earned) on one hit with two walks in one-third of an inning. Starter West Covington tossed 3.1 frames where he gave up three runs (one earned) on seven hits with two punch outs. Also, coming out of the pen for the Pirates were Zach Barnes (0.0 IP, 1 BB), Trey Benton (2.2 IP, 1 BB, 2 Ks), Evan Voliva (0.2 IP) and Gavin Williams (1.0 IP).

Cougars Staff:
Joey Pulido (5-2) picked up the win in relief tossing a scoreless frame where he gave up two hits. Lockhart notched his third save of the year with 1.1 scoreless innings where he walked one and struck out a pair. Starter Brayson Hurdsman allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Kyle Ott gave the Cougars depleted staff three innings where he surrendered one run (earned) on one hit with two free passes and a pair of punch outs.

ECU Bats:

The Pirates tallied eight hits getting multiple base knocks from Turner Brown (two) and Burleson (two). ECU’s bottom of the order registered six of the nine hits and accounted for two of the three runs. Henrickson (sac fly), Lloyd (RBI double) and Packard (RBI single) drove in all three runs. Henrickson laced his second triple of the championships (third of the season) in the fourth inning.

Up Next:
ECU will be back in action Friday morning at 10 a.m. (ET) taking on Houston in an elimination game. Winner advances to the AAC Championships, while the loser will go home. The game will be played on Robin Roberts Field and can be viewed online on American Digital Network Plus Facebook.