HOUSTON -- No. 13 Houston Baseball's season comes to a close following two, one-run heartbreaking losses in the NCAA Houston Regional at Cougar Field on Sunday. The Cougars fell 2-1 to Louisiana-Lafayette, before bowing out of postseason play with a 3-2, 20-inning loss to Rice.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
1 -- Freshman Seth Romero carried a no-hitter into the eighth and finished with a 1-hitter.
2 -- Houston notched back-to-back 40-win seasons, the first time since 1999 and 2000.
3 -- Houston hosted its third NCAA Regional (2015, 2000, 1999).
10 -- First time ever two Houston pitchers recorded at least 10 strikeouts in a single game.
11 -- Aaron Garza struck out a career-high 11 hitters in 9.0 innings of relief work vs. Rice
15 -- Chris Iriart belted his team-leading 15th homerun of the year.
20 -- Houston made its 20th NCAA Regional appearance in program history.
20 -- Houston won 20 of its last 26 games played this season.
20 -- 20-inning game vs. Rice was the longest game in program history since Feb. 21, 1999 -- 22 innings
23 -- Single-game team record for strikeouts by a Houston staff.
43 -- Houston hit 43 homeruns, the most since 44 in 2010.
GAME 1: Louisiana-Lafayette 2, Houston 1
True freshman Seth Romero (8.0,1,1,0,3,8) carried a no-hitter into the eighth and finished the game, allowing just one unearned run on one hit and three walks with eight strikeouts.
In just his eighth career start, the West Columbia, Texas native was electric, retiring the first 13 hitters he faced, while facing the minimum through the first seven innings.
His first base runner came in the fifth on a one-out walk, but a 1-3-6 caught stealing retired the runner.
With two outs in the eighth, Romero allowed his first hit, a roller through the left side. A walk followed, but the southpaw was able to escape the Ragin' Cajun threat, stranding a pair.
Junior Chris Iriart put the Cougars up early at 1-0 on the first pitch he saw, driving his team-leading 15th homerun over the left field wall in the top of the first.
After a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth, Houston made a pitching change and Romero handed the ball over to freshman teammate Aaron Fletcher (0.1,1,1,0,0,0), who allowed an unearned run on one hit and one hit batter in the loss, falling to 2-1 on the year.
Houston tallied seven hits on the game, but the lone run was all it could muster up, stranding seven in the outing.
The Cougars were led offensively by Iriart, who went 3-for-4 with a run and RBI, while junior Josh Vidales (1x4), junior Jacob Campbell (1x4), freshman Corey Julks (1x4) and junior Ian Rice (1x4) all had base hits.
Louisiana-Lafayette reliever Greg Milhorn (3.0,2,0,0,0,2) picked up the win, allowing two hits with two strikeouts in 3.0 innings.
A crowd of 3,792 was in attendance, which ranks eighth all-time in program history at Cougar Field.
HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
"It was a well-played game by both teams. You have to tip your hat to Seth Romero. It's tough for a freshman to go out there, and to do what he did today was outstanding. They pitched the ball well and matched us pitch for pitch and we just didn't get a break here and there. What do you say, it's baseball, and it's a hard game. Sometimes it is a cruel game, but there is still a lot more baseball left to play in this tournament."
On what to tell the guys after the loss
"So what, (we) can't do anything about it. Once you take your uniform off, it's over with. We were in the same position last year at LSU, (and we) played just fine. So you know, just go out there and get ready to play Rice tonight, (and) see what happens"
On the incredible atmosphere at a sold out Cougar Field
"It's a special time at the University of Houston. To host a game like that, to have that many fans show up and support, that was as good a college baseball (game) as you will ever see. I mean, I wish we would have come (out) at the other end of it, but we're extremely appreciative of our fans coming out (and) being loud. The support that we've had this entire season, so that it would've been another good one tonight so you know, this is what you do it for. This is something we've all prepared for our entire baseball career. We'll go out there tonight and see what happens."
HOUSTON FRESHMAN PITCHER Seth Romero
On how he felt, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning
"I mean, it crosses my mind as the game goes on, but it didn't. I was just worried about getting the W at the end, but some things don't play out how you want them to."
On the conversations he had during the game with catcher Ian Rice
"In between innings, we were good at talking to each other and talking about where I need to be and what I need to do. I mean, it really helps to have a catcher that you're really close with. Ian's a great catcher."
How he felt going into the ninth inning
"I had no clue what the pitch count was. I mean, my arm felt good when I came out. I just didn't make the pitches I needed to."
On if he relied on his fastball against Louisiana's hitters
"I mean, not necessarily. That's what I usually do against most of the teams that we play. It's my best pitch. I mean, I usually throw it till they start hitting it."
GAME 2: Rice 3, Houston 2 (20 innings)
NOTES from 20-inning GAME
- 23 total strikeouts by Houston pitching became the single-game team record, surpassing the previous record of 21 strikeouts (vs. St. Louis, 5/7/05, 13 inn.)
- Longest UH game since 2/21/99 - 22 inn., L, 2-8 vs. Baylor at Cougar Field (6:43 - time)
- Longest ever UH vs. Rice game (Previous - 5/10/96, L, 8-16 (13 inn.) at Cougar Field
- First ever game with two Houston pitchers with at least 10 strikeouts (Dowdy: 10, Garza: 11)
A 20-inning marathon was the longest game played by a Houston team since February 21, 1999 when it went 22 innings.
The marathon began when freshman Corey Julks belted a game-tying homerun in the eighth inning to tie the contest up at 2-2. The tie score held for 11 innings as both Houston relievers Aaron Garza and Jared Robinson, along with Rice reliever Austin Orewiler combined for those 11 shutout frames.
The Owls broke free with a one-out single in the 20th and with two outs, a ball down the right field line would plate the go-ahead run as Houston went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame.
Houston starter Kyle Dowdy (9.1,9,2,1,3,10) went a career-long 9.1 innings, allowing one earned run on nine hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts. He handed the ball over to Robinson (1.2,0,0,0,3,2), who worked 1.2 hitless frames with two strikeouts.
Garza (9.0,6,1,1,0,11) shined in his final collegiate outing, going a career-long 9.0 innings, while logging a career-high 11 strikeouts. The Galveston, Texas native allowed one run on six hits with no walks in the relief outing. Despite an impressive performance, Garza would suffer the heartbreaking loss and fall to 1-4 on the year.
The game saw a combined 26 hits and just five runs over the 20-inning contest.
Survance went 2-for-9 with one RBI, while Julks drove in the other lone Cougar run with his fifth homerun in his debut season. Junior Jacob Campbell had two hits, while seven other Cougars tallied a base knock.
HOUSTON ASSISTANT COACH Frank Anderson
"It is a tough one. 20 innings? The first one (against Louisiana-Lafayette) was a tough one. There were some situations and tough plays in that first game that I wish we hadn't even had to play this one. When we get into it and guys are fighting, scratching and clawing... they made a play and scored a run late, and we didn't, and it was the difference in the game. That is the first 20-inning game I've ever been a part of."
On if the length of the game takes a toll
"Absolutely. You know who won this game tonight? Louisiana-Lafayette. They've got to be laughing. We're just beating the tar out of each other right there and throwing all kinds of pitchers on the field right there. We played 20 innings. Something had to happen. They got a big hit there at the end to make it 3-2. The kids fought and battled and scrapped and made plays. After a while you get numb. In the end, somebody's got to score eventually. We don't have any softball rules to place somebody on second base."
On what he told the team after the game
"You've got to go home and reflect on what happened. We've been out here forever. You go back, and you sleep on it and come back, and maybe you can make some sense out of it. I don't think there is a lot you can do right now, because we're upset about losing the first game (against Louisiana-Lafayette).
On the first game loss
"I told Todd (Whitting) during the third inning (of the Rice game) that I still hadn't lost sight of what happened in the first game. That's one of the best pitched games... I've been doing this for thirty years, and I never had a kid pitch that well as a freshman. That game turned around in the eighth inning on a big situation. It's a drain for everybody."
HOUSTON JUNIOR PITCHER Kyle Dowdy
On working the first half of a 20-inning game
"It does feel like it was a completely different game. It is one of those that is going to sting for a while; it hurts. We obviously wanted it, but we just didn't get a lucky break when we needed it. You go out there and just give everything you have. Our boys did that tonight. We gave everything we had tonight."
HOUSTON REGIONAL UPDATE
The Houston Regional will continue for Rice and Louisiana-Lafayette as the two will face each other at 1 p.m. CT on Monday at Cougar Field. Louisiana-Lafayette is one win away from advancing to a Super Regional.
JOIN THE DUGOUT CLUB
Nationally-ranked Houston Baseball would like to encourage those wishing to support the efforts and success of the baseball student-athletes to consider joining the Dugout Club for as low as $25 a month or $300 annually.
For a minimum monthly installment of $25 or a minimum one-time gift of $300, supporters can take advantage of the Pinch Hitter level, which will guarantee an invitation for two to exclusive Dugout Club events and Houston Baseball team apparel.
For a minimum monthly installment of $100 or a minimum one-time gift of $1,000, supporters can take advantage of the Diamond level, which will guarantee batting practice passes for two to any home game, invitation for two to exclusive Dugout Club events and Houston Baseball apparel.
**Cougar Pride points will be applied accordingly.
For more information on joining the Dugout Club, please contact the Houston Baseball office at (713) 743-9396.
For more information regarding Cougar Pride, please call (713) 743-GOUH.
Stay up to date with all Houston Baseball news and highlights by following us on Twitter @UHCougarBB or on Facebook at /HoustonCougarBaseball. Fans can also follow head coach Todd Whitting @toddwhitting on Twitter.