HOUSTON, Texas – East Carolina suffered two losses to Houston on Saturday, falling 13-5 in five innings and 6-2. In the first contest, Melissa Gregson drove in three runs and scored four while Jennifer Klinkert went three-for-three with a trio of RBI. ECU sophomore Alex Fieldhouse tallied two hits and a pair of runs batted in to lead the Pirate (16-25, 4-10 C-USA) offense. Houston (26-15, 11-3 C-USA) took the second game with a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh by Jaime Edwards. East Carolina sophomore Jasmine Robbins hit a two-run home run to account for the Pirates’ two runs.
During game one, freshman Sarah Christian took the loss, lasting one-and-two-thirds innings. She allowed eight runs, seven earned, on eight hits. Classmate Courtney Smith went the final three frames, surrendering five runs on 10 hits and a walk. Diedre Outon (10-4) earned the win for the Cougars, throwing all five innings and giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks. She also fanned a pair. The five runs are tied for the most Outon had given up in a start this season.
The second contest had Christian (13-15) suffer the setback, throwing all six-and-two-thirds innings and letting in six runs, two earned, on nine hits and a walk. She struck out a trio. Bailey Watts tossed the first three-and-a-third frames. She gave up two runs on two hits, two walks and a pair of strikeouts. Summer Groholski (5-4) entered for the remaining three-and-two-thirds, scattering just two hits and fanning one.
In the opener, after sending down the Pirates in order in the top of the first, the Cougars jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the frame. Holley Anderson and Ashleigh Jones hit back-to-back infield singles before Gregson lined a single to center. Anderson scored on the hit and Jones also came home as the throw from center fielder Robbins went between the legs of sophomore catcher Rebecca Lee and to the backstop. After a pop out, Klinkert plated Gregson with a sacrifice fly to center field. Another fly out to center closed the frame.
East Carolina immediately answered in the top of the second to make it a 3-2 contest. Senior Suzanne Riggs led off the frame with a single that landed just inside the right-field foul line. Sophomore Jordan Lewis attempted a sacrifice bunt, but fouled out to catcher Haley Outon, who threw to first to try and double off Riggs, but the throw was wide and Riggs advanced to second on the error. A single up the middle by Fieldhouse moved Riggs to third before another single, this one through the right side by Robbins, plated Riggs. A fielder’s choice by Lee forced Fieldhouse out at third, but a double steal moved Robbins to third and Lee to second. Sophomore Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin hit a high chopper over the head of Diedre Outon in the circle and beat the throw to first to drive in Robbins and make it a one-run game. Sophomore Jill Jelnick sent a hard shot toward right field, but first baseman Edwards made the backhanded stop and touched first to end the threat.
UH came right back with five runs in the bottom of the second to go ahead 8-2. A double by Reina Gaber followed by singles from Sydney Gerbracht and Kendra Cullum put the Cougars up by three runs. After an Anderson single and steal of second base, Jones grounded out to Fieldhouse at third base. Gregson followed with a suicide squeeze with Cullum scoring as she slid under the tag from Lee to make it a 6-2 contest. A sacrifice fly by Haley Outon plated Anderson and Gregson scored on a Klinkert single to left field. Smith entered for Christian and ended the inning with a Gaber lineout to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin at shortstop.
In the top of the fourth, ECU scored to close the gap to 8-3. Lewis led off with a double to left center and Fieldhouse reached on a fielder’s choice as Anderson at third threw back to second, but Lewis was safe. After a strikeout, a wild pitch moved Lewis to third and Fieldhouse to second. Lee followed with a single to left field that drove in Lewis and advanced Fieldhouse to third base. Lee stole second base, but a pair of groundouts closed the frame.
The Cougars took an eight-run advantage in the bottom of the frame with a trio of runs. Jones singled, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a Gregson single to right center. A groundout moved Gregson to second and she stole third before coming home with a Klinkert single up the middle for a 10-3 lead. Following a single from Edwards, a fielder’s choice left runners on first and second with two down. Gerbracht plated Edwards with a single to center before Smith retired Cullum on a groundout.
The Pirates scored a pair in the top of the fifth to make it an 11-5 Cougar advantage. After a leadoff single by sophomore Kristi Oshiro, senior Priscilla Velasquez put down a sacrifice bunt. Riggs walked to put runners on first and second for Lewis, who drew a free pass on four-straight pitches to load the bases. Fieldhouse came through with a single to right center that drove in Oshiro and Riggs. Sophomore Abby Wynne entered to run for Fieldhouse and was caught stealing second base. A groundout by Robbins ended the threat.
In the bottom of the fifth, Houston ended the game with two runs for a 13-5 final due to the eight-run rule. Anderson led off with a home run to left field. After a fly out, Gregson singled through the left side. A fly out by Haley Outon provided the second out, but consecutive singles by Klinkert, Edwards and Gaber drove in Gregson for the last run of the contest.
During the second contest, the Cougars again threatened in the bottom of the first, but failed to convert. Anderson led off with a double to left field and Jones was hit by a pitch. A Gregson sacrifice bunt moved the pair up a base, but a strikeout and pop out kept the two on base.
In the top of the third, East Carolina registered its first base runner and hit to take a 2-0 lead. Lee led off with a walk and Robbins hit a home run to left that gave the Pirates their initial lead of the day. Watts bounced back, retiring the next three batters on a pop out, foul out and groundout.
ECU had a chance to add to its lead in the top of the fourth, but failed to convert. Fieldhouse led off with a single to left, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it to a double. Riggs walked, chasing Watts and bringing in Groholski. Lewis bounced into a fielder’s choice with Riggs thrown out at second and Velasquez popped out to end the inning.
Houston scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to knot the contest at 2-2. Gregson led off with a double to right and Haley Outon bunted for a single to put runners on the corners. Klinkert hit a sacrifice fly to Lewis in right to drive in Gregson and move Outon to second. Edwards lined out to Robbins in center field and Outon advanced to third on the play. A single into center by Gaber drove in Outon to knot the game at 2-2. Pinch hitter Kayla Holland entered for Gerbracht and flew out to Riggs in left to close the frame.
The Cougars missed on an opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Cullum opened the inning striking out swinging, but the pitch was in the dirt and Lee’s throw to first was wide, pulling Velasquez off the bag. After a fly out, Jones reached on an infield single to put runners on first and second. Gregson fouled out to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin down the left-field line and Outon popped out to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin to strand the pair.
After retiring the Pirates in order in the top of the sixth, UH had another chance to score in the bottom of the frame. Klinkert singled to left to open the inning. After a strikeout, Gaber singled to right to put runners on first and second. Holland, who remained in the game as the designated player, fouled out to Velasquez and Cullum flew out to Robbins in left center to keep two more Cougars on base.
In the bottom of the seventh, Houston won with Edwards’ long ball. Jones reached on a one-out throwing error by Christian. Following a fly out, Haley Outon singled to right field to put runners on first and second. Klinkert walked on four pitches to fill the bases for Edwards, who sent the ball over the wall in left center to end to contest.
The teams complete the three-game series Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. ET matchup.