(Photo by Mark Philbrick)
PROVO, Utah -- A late rally proved not to be enough as BYU fell in a 7-3 decision Friday night to the University of Houston at Gail Miller Field.
Starting pitcher Hannah Howell dropped to 5-11 on the season as the Cougars (14-16, 4-0 PCSC) couldn't recover from a five-run Houston first inning in front of 1,023 fans. Houston starting pitcher Bailey Watts recorded her 12th win of the season, striking out four to preserve the Scarlet Cougars (20-10, 8-1 CUSA) victory.
"Hannah wasn't ready to pitch," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "She was flat and they roughed us up in the first inning and we never recovered. Carly came in and did a nice job for us. That was probably the only thing tonight that I'll take away as a bright spot."
JC Clayton, Katie Manuma and Marissa Bravo all finished with two hits in the loss. Pitcher Carly Duckworth came in relief of Howell to start the third inning and gave up just two runs in five innings of play.
Houston got the bats swinging early with a five-hit, five-run first inning. Outfielder Tylor Duplechain began the barrage with a triple, driving in two runs to take an early 2-0 level. Houston’s next three batters hit three-straight doubles, scoring three more runs to extend Houston’s lead to 5-0.
The Cougars looked to narrow the gap during the bottom of the second inning. With two outs, Clayton singled up the middle to load the bases for the Cougars, before Duckworth hit a pop-up to center field to end the inning.The score remained at a 5-0 Houston advantage through four.
In the top of the fifth inning, Holland advanced to second on her second double of the game with a deep ball into center field. Houston’s next batter singled up the middle and drove in the run to up Houston’s lead to 6-0. Jessica Snyder batted in another Houston run with a grounder to the left-field gap to end the top of the fifth with a seven-run lead.
BYU got on the board in the bottom of the fifth after taking advantage of multiple Houston errors. Manuma singled up the middle to load the bases before Bravo smashed a line-drive that bounced out of the reach of Houston's third baseman to score two runs. With two outs, Madisen Robb reached base on another Snyder error to score Manuma and narrow the Houston lead to four, down 7-3 after five innings of play.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Cougars looked to rally with two outs and runners on second and third, but Robb grounded out to end the game. BYU returns to action tomorrow afternoon against Houston with game one of a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. MDT. Watch the Cougars live on BYUtv.