CLEARWATER, Fla – In a back-and-forth showdown in the winner’s bracket of the 2017 American Championship the Huskies fell short 7-6 against second-seeded Houston.
Tim Cate got the start for the Huskies, pitched 5.1 innings, allowed five runs on eight hits, walked three and struck out four. The left-hander picked up both his 200th career strikeout and 100th punch-out of the season. Cate is the first pitcher to record multiple 100 strikeout campaigns, striking out 101 batters in his freshman season.
The Huskies provided Cate with run support in the third. After a pair of errors helped set up the inning and allow a run to come across, Isaac Feldstein smoked a three-run homer way out to right center field to give UConn a 4-1 lead.
The Cougars responded with four runs over the course of their next four at-bats to take a 5-4 lead. Anthony Prato tied the game in the seventh with an RBI single into center field to make it a 5-5 ballgame.
Two critical errors gave the lead back to the Cougars in the seventh and Houston added a tally in the eighth to take a 7-5 lead.
The Huskies would not go down without a fight. Singles from Aaron Hill and John Toppa placed base runners at first and second with one out. Prato delivered an RBI single to left to make it a one-run game. Houston closer Aaron Fletcher was able to bear down and strike out the next two batters to end the comeback attempt.
UConn (32-24) will have to fight out of the loser’s bracket with an elimination game Friday, May 26 at 11 a.m. against Memphis. The game can be seen on The American Digital Network and listened to on 91.7 FM WHUS/ fm.whus.org.
The Huskies have won four of their last five elimination games including two in the 2016 American Championship.
Tim Cate became the 11th pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in his career and first UConn pitcher to register 100 strikeouts in multiple seasons.
Anthony Prato has seven hits and reached base in nine of his 10 plate appearances in the tournament.