After 14 straight losses in their cross-town baseball rivalry with Rice, the Cougars fell agonizingly short on Saturday in the Conference USA final, losing to Rice 4-3 in 10 innings. Houston missed out on a chance for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and a shot at some temporary redemption against the Owls, who were headed to the Tournament with or without a win Saturday.
Things started out well enough, with the Cougars leading 3-0 after four innings. In the fifth, things started to go south. Two fielding errors by the Cougars allowed Rice two runs, and the Owls tied it in the sixth on an RBI single by shortstop Derek Hamilton.
Both teams buckled down from there until the bottom of the tenth inning. Rice 2nd baseman Anthony Rendon doubled, and the Cougars intentionally walked designated hitter Michael Ratterree to set up the double-play. However, catcher Craig Manuel had other ideas. Manuel smacked a single through the right side, scoring Rendon and ending the game in addition to Houston's season.
Rice now moves on to the NCAA Tournament, while Houston goes home after a 27-32 season overall, with a 12-12 Conference USA record.