An early four-run lead wasn’t enough for Purdue baseball to hold on in the Chapel Hill Regional semi-final Sunday afternoon as it lost, 8-4, to Houston.
No. 2 seed Purdue faced an uphill battle after losing to No. 3 seed Houston 9-1 in the tournament opener, sending them to the loser’s bracket in the double elimination tournament. On Sunday, the team had a chance at redemption.
Houston lost to No. 1 seed North Carolina on Saturday, which paved the way for the Sunday rematch.
The Cougars were aided in Friday’s lopsided victory by a complete game performance from American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Aaron Fletcher.
Coach Waz was proud of how #Purdue kept battling & fighting all the way to the of Sunday's season finale at the NCAA Regional. He also saluted Houston for the adjustments our opponent made throughout both games this weekend. #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/3Dicn9QAPS— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) June 3, 2018
This time around, the team had to rely on Ryan Randel, who managed to go just three and a third. In that time, he gave up two earned runs on two hits and three walks with one strikeout.
Redshirt freshman Andrew Bohm started for the Boilermakers and provided the team a strong, early foundation, allowing just one earned run on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
Purdue entered the bottom of the fifth with a 4-0 lead.
But the Houston Cougars responded with eight unanswered runs through the second half of the game.
Defense was at the forefront of Purdue’s performance. The team converted four double plays, including one that allowed the team to escape a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The trouble started once the bullpen was called upon. Freshman relief pitcher Bo Hofstra allowed three runs in one inning of work, and third-team All-American Ross Learnard allowed four runs in a breakout eighth inning from Houston.
Both teams were firing offensively with 12 hits each. Jacson McGowan and Ben Nisle led the way for Purdue, hitting back-to-back homeruns in the fifth.
The Cougars’ offseason production was spread throughout the lineup. Five hitters hit safely on two occasions, but it was a homerun from designated hitter Joe Davis that ultimately proved to be the difference maker.
His eighth inning bomb to opposite field started a four-run inning for Houston, which was all the team needed to secure the victory.