Former area baseball standouts star for UH

HOUSTON — It is always good to watch former high school players who do well at the next level. Such is the case with former Friendswood All-Stater Lael Lockhart and Pearland All-Stater Connor Wong who now play an important role for the University of Houston Cougars baseball team.

Lockhart was named to the Texas Sports Writers All-State first-team last season and Wong was a TSWA first-team pick at shortstop in 2014.

Lockhart, who is a freshman, starts at first base and Wong, a junior, moved from shortstop to catcher this season for the Coogs.

The Cougars recently hosted the NCAA Regionals featuring Texas A&M, Houston, Baylor, and Iowa.

Houston lost the opener to Iowa 6-3 in the double elimination tournament, but rebounded with wins over Baylor 17-3 and Iowa 7-5 before losing to A&M 4-3 to end their season.

Both players had key roles in the 7-5 win over Iowa to send them into the finals against A&M.

Lockhart opened the third inning with a double, advanced to third on a fly out to right, and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Wong giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

With game tied 5-5 in the top of the ninth, Wong opened up with a solo home run that would be the game-winner giving the Coogs a 6-5 lead. But Houston would add an insurance run for a 7-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

"In that at bat I just remember telling myself to find a way to get on," Wong said. "Whatever it is you have to do, get a hit, a walk, just get on and try and start something to get us back ahead. After that, I don't remember anything.

"I felt like I hit it good. I knew the ball wasn't going to carry as well as it has here. In the back of my mind I was doubting how far it (homer) would go just hoping that I would end up on base."

Wong finished the game going 1-for-4 with two RBIs and one run scored including his 12th homer of the season while Lockhart was 2-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI.

"I'm proud of the gritty effort from our guys," said UH head coach Todd Whitting. "We never quit. We had opportunities in there where things didn't go our way, and they just kept playing. Connor's (Wong) big knock there, the home run there late, overall I just told the team what an overall great team effort. I'm unbelievably proud of what they did."

The Coogs pulled out the win with two strike outs and a pop out to end the game sending Houston to face the Aggies in the regional final.

Unfortunately, Houston couldn't pull out a win over the undefeated Aggies who stayed in the winners bracket with wins over Baylor 8-5, Iowa 3-2, and Houston 4-3 to move on in the NCAA tournament.

Houston finishes with a 42-21 season record.