Houston Shut Out by Lamar

The Houston Cougars traveled to Beaumont on Wednesday to take on the Lamar Cardinals . . . Houston entered the game with a 6-1 record on the season, while Lamar was playing its first game of the season, the result of the first part of their schedule being cancelled due to several Covid-19 positives within its program . . . As such, Lamar put their number one starter on the mound to begin their season.

Matt Lazzaro took the hill for the Cougars in what was his first start as a Cougar . . . Matt went through the Cardinals lineup once and exited after two scoreless innings, having yielded one hit, it would be the only Lamar hit until the bottom of the eighth inning.

Sean Bretz took the ball for the third inning and tossed a scoreless frame . . . Cameron Prayer then started the fourth inning and would not relinquish the ball until the eighth inning when he exited the game with two outs, likely a matter of his pitch count at this stage in the season in his longest outing thus far . . . Prayer was outstanding and went 4 2/3 hitless innings with seven strikeouts, two of those strikeouts coming in the eighth just before his exit.

The Cougars collected a total of five base hits in the Wednesday evening affair, one of those came off the bat of Steven Rivas in the form of an infield single . . . Rivas was injured on the close play at first . . . After a brief pause in the game to attend to Rivas, he stayed in the game to run, but he exited an inning later, replaced by freshman Samuel Benjamin . . . Rivas was 2-for-2 before exiting.

Ryan Hernandez hit two singles in the game, and Brandon Uhse got a base hit in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to seven games . . . Those were the only five hits for the Cougars in the game as Cardinals starter Trevin Michael went the first five innings, and he the gave way to three Lamar relief pitchers who carried the load for the final four frames.

The Cardinals finally got to the Cougars bullpen in the bottom of the eighth, plating two runs with two outs and taking a 2-0 lead, a score which would hold up in the ninth and gave Houston just its second loss of 2021 as they went to 6-2.

The Cougars return home this Friday to host a weekend series with the Texas Longhorns, the first such series since 1996 when both teams were still in the old Southwest Conference . . . First pitch from Schroeder Park is at 6:30. –

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Cougars Win in 10, Improve to 6-1

The Houston Cougars offense had to settle for ten fewer runs than they scored on Saturday night in a record-setting performance, but with the help of outstanding pitching, four runs were enough to eek out a one-run victory in ten innings on Sunday at Whataburger Field.

Blake Schultz got the Sunday start for the Cougars and went four scoreless innings while his offense was also being blanked by the other side . . . Schultz received some aid from his catcher as Kyle Lovelace caught two runners attempting to steal second in the second inning, and caught another in the third to end the inning.

Schutlz and the rest of the Cougars pitching staff was being matched by Islanders starter Hayden Thomas who pitched into the ninth inning before being lifted, but not before he struck out twelve Cougars while only walking one and scattering nine hits.

Cameron Prayer picked up an inning of work relieving Schultz in the fifth and ended the inning without allowing a run . . . Sean Bretz took the mound for the sixth and kept the game scoreless . . . With the game still scoreless, Bretz started the seventh but left with the bases loaded and no outs having allowed the Islanders to take a 1-0 on a throwing error, a situation that Layne Looney inherited . . . The Islanders plated another run on a sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 into the eighth.

Brad Burckel finally got the Cougars on the scoreboard in the eighth when he hit a solo homerun with one out, his second home run in as many games and his third of the young season . . . The Islanders got the run right back in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff home run to make the score 3-1 . . . Ryne Huggins then entered the game and ended the Islanders attempt to pad their lead.

Tyler Bielamowicz led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run to draw the Cougars to within a run, part of a 4-for-5 Sunday for the Cougars senior . . . The Cougars loaded the bases with the help of a couple of errors by the Islanders defense, then Dylan Post grounded into a double play that scored the game-tying run . . . Derrick Cherry took the mound for the ninth and kept the Islanders at bay, sending the game into extras.

In the Cougars half of the tenth, with the customary extra-innings runner being placed on second, in this case it was Brad Burckel, Brandon Uhse doubled to score Burckel and give the Cougars a 4-3 lead . . . The Cougars took that lead to the bottom of the inning, Derrick Cherry again took the mound, this time with the aforementioned runner on second . . . Cherry picked up two strikeouts but loaded the bases with a walk and a hit batter . . . However, Cherry got a bases-loaded groundout to end the game in ten . . . Cherry earned the save in the 4-3 victory.

The Cougars have the next two days away from play and will travel to Beaumont on Wednesday to take on Lamar University at 6pm . . . The Cougars will then look to improve on their 6-1 record to begin 2021, before returning home next weekend to host the Texas Longhorns.

Cougars Dominate the Islanders 14-1

Nothing about the Houston Cougars 3-2 loss to the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders on Friday night indicated that twenty-fours hours later would see a monster offensive performance in which the offense set a new school record for home runs in a game . . . A record previously set at seven in May of 1999 . . . But that is what happened at Whataburger Field on Saturday night as the Cougars scored a run in six of the nine innings.

Brad Burckel got the Cougars offense started on Saturday night when he hit the second pitch of the game out of the ballpark for a lead off home run . . . After a single by Brandon Uhse, Steven Rivas hit a two-run home run to center to give the Cougars a quick 3-0 lead.

Freshman Will Pendergrass hit his first collegiate home run in the second to lead off the inning . . . Batting again in the second, with Brandon Uhse on second base after reaching on a double, Steven Rivas delivered another two-run home run to give the Cougars a 6-0 lead.

Freshman Samuel Benjamin also hit his first collegiate home run, this one coming in the third inning . . . Tyler Bielamowicz kept the scoring going in the fourth with a two-run homerun to increase the Cougars lead to 9-0.

Will Pendergrass hit his second home run of the night, this time a two-run shot in the fifth to make the score 11-0 . . .  Later in the inning, Brandon Uhse hit a home run to give the Cougars a 13-0 lead . . . Adam Becker capped the Cougars scoring with a single in the seventh that plated Brandon Uhse and put the Cougars on top 14-0.

The eight home runs for the Cougars set a school record for a single game . . . Five of the home runs were hit with a runner on base . . . Brandon Uhse was 3-for-4 and was on base in each of his first five plate appearances . . . In addition to his two home runs, Will Pendergrass reached base two other times, hit by a pitch one time and walked another time, good production from the eight spot in the lineup . . . Samuel Benjamin was 2-for-4 with a single in addition to the solo home run.

For as good as the offense was on Saturday night, Ben Sears was that dominant on the other side . . . Staked to a big lead that continued to grow as the game went on, Sears scattered four hits over seven innings and did not walk a batter, only departing in the eighth inning after two singles started the inning for the Islanders . . . Sears gave way to Andrew Belcik, eventually one of the runners allowed on base by Sears would score on a sacrifice fly to left field accounting for the sole Islanders run in the game.

Maddux Miller started the ninth in relief, but he gave way to Derrick Cherry who recorded the final out on a fly ball to left and secured the 14-1 victory for the Cougars . . . The Cougars improved to 5-1 on the season with the win.

These two teams close out the weekend series with a rubber game on Sunday afternoon at 1pm at Whataburger Field . . . .Blake Schultz with his record of 1-0 will take the mound for the Cougars.

Cougars Rally Falls Short 3-2

The Houston Cougars baseball team took their show, and their undefeated record, on the road Friday to begin a weekend series in Corpus Christi at Whataburger Field . . . The Cougars faced-off again with the Islanders of Texas A&M Corpus Christi for the second time this week, but this time the Islanders played host and unlike the previous game, the Islanders took Friday’s contest 3-2.

Robert Gasser got his second start of the season on Friday night, and he went five innings giving up two runs while certainly keeping his team in the game . . . Gasser took the mound for the sixth, but after a hit batter, he was replaced by Jacob Deese . . . Desse promptly struck out the first batter and got the next batter to hit into an inning-ending double play.

The Cougars were scoreless until the sixth inning when Tyler Bielamowicz delivered a one-out single to left to score Steven Rivas from third . . . Bielamowicz was one of the offensive stars of the night going 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI, and Tyler reached base a fourth time when he walked.

The Islanders added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, and were about to add a run but for an alert play by Steven Rivas on a grounder just beyond the reach of a diving Brad Burckel. Rivas fielded and immediately fired to Dylan Post at home for a catch-and-tag at the plate.

Ryan Hernandez was 2-for-4 and Steven Rivas drove in the only other Cougars run on a ninth inning error that scored Cole Turney from second in a last inning would-be comeback . . . The Cougars left eleven runners on base Friday night . . . Just as in the season opener last Saturday, the Cougars used only two pitchers in the game, Robert Gasser and Jaycob Deese . . . Gasser took the loss to even his record at 1-1 on the season.

The 3-2 defeat was the first of the season for the Cougars . . . The two teams get back at it Saturday when they face off again at 6pm at Whataburger Field.

Cougars Improve to 4-0 to Start 2021

Cameron Prayer throws the first pitch Tuesday afternoon

The Houston Cougars scored double-digit runs for the third consecutive game on Tuesday while downing the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders 12-8 at Schroeder Park.

Cameron Prayer took the mound for his first start as a Cougar . . . Prayer’s teammates got him some early offense, plating five runs in the bottom of the second inning.

The scoring in the second began when third baseman Adam Becker hit a ball off the wall in left-center and two runs crossed the plate to tie the game . . . After an RBI single by Brad Burckel, Steven Rivas hit is third home run of the young season . . . Before the inning was over, the Cougars had re-taken the lead 5-2.

Steven Rivas was not done . . . After a home run by Brandon Uhse to lead off the fourth, Rivas hit another home run, a towering shot to center that cleared the fence to the left of the black screen in center . . . For Rivas it was part of a 3-for-5, 3 RBI afternoon, he has 8 RBI in the first four games.

Tyler Bielamowicz would hit a home run in the seventh that allowed the Cougars to re-take a five run lead 10-5. For Tyler it was his first of the season and part of a 2-for-3 afternoon . . . Ian McMillan continued to swing a hot bat going 3-for-5.

Brad Burckel homered in the seventh as well to extend the lead to 12-5. Burckel went the opposite way for his first home run of the year in a 2-for-4 effort.

A bevy of other Cougars pitchers saw some innings in Tuesday’s game, including Sean Bretz, Carter Henry, Ryne Huggins, and Dravin Barber . . . The Cougars offense scored a run in five of eight innings and pounded out sixteen hits.

Maddux Miller went 1 2/3 innings, struck out three batters, and earned the win for his work to go 1-0 on the year . . . Derrick Cherry closed the door in the ninth, after inheriting a bases-loaded and no outs situation, Derrick recorded three outs, striking out two batters, to lock down the 12-8 victory for the Cougars.

The Cougars hit the road now for their first road trip of the season, heading southwest to take on these same Islanders in a three-game series at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi over the weekend, first pitch Friday night is at 6pm.

Cougars Open 2021 with Series Sweep

Blake Schultz opens Sunday’s game against TSU

The Houston Cougars continued their perfection against the Texas Southern Tigers Sunday at Schroeder Park with a 14-4 win, increasing the series record to 32-0 . . . The two teams began playing each other in 1987.

Blake Schultz took the hill for the Cougars in his first outing since coming to Houston . . . Schultz looked strong with good command as he struck out three and did not allow any walks over 4 1/3 innings in which he allowed a single earned run . . . Blake picked up the win (1-0).

In the third inning, Steven Rivas hit a two-run home run to right that traveled 460 feet to extend the Cougars lead to 4-0 . . . Four batters later Ian McMillan hit a grand slam to left to put the Cougars well in front . . . In addition to five RBI, McMillan also dazzled in the field with some incredible defensive plays, many at times when the team really needed them . . . In a post game interview, McMillan noted that he found the partially missing tooth of Luke Almendarez before the game today . . . Almendarez lost part of his tooth in a collision at home plate on Saturday . . . For McMillan, the partial tooth might be a good luck, it might be worth carrying around again to see if it delivers another five RBI.

Sean Bretz made his return to the Cougars after missing all of 2020 after Tommy John Surgery . . . Sean inherited a batter with two strikes already, and he dispatched the batter with a 93mph fastball for a one-pitch strike out . . . Bretz would strike out the next batter to end the Tigers fifth . . . Sean exited after another full inning of work.

Steven Rivas was not done as he doubled to the right field wall in the eighth, part of a 3-for-4 afternoon . . . Rivas is obviously happy to be playing again after having been unable to compete for 347 days prior to this weekend, “you feel like a little kid again,” Rivas said after Sunday’s game.

Tyler Bielamowicz came off the bench for the second day in a row to deliver for the team . . . Tyler hit a bases loaded double to left-center to score two runs, the final runs Houston would score on Sunday.

Derrick Cherry pitched the final two innings to close out the 14-4 victory for the Cougars . . . Derrick struck out one and allowed one hit as he threw twenty-six pitches in his two innings, he was also steadily hitting 93mph and topped out at 95mph.

The 32-0 series record against Texas Southern holds until the two teams meet again, 34 years of dominance by the Cougars will set a standard for all future teams, as will the combined runs in this weekend series win of 30-9 over the three games.

“I have the hammer right now,” Ian McMillan pointed out after the Sunday win, and referring to teammates Ryan Hernandez and Steven Rivas, the only other Cougars to lift the hammer so far this season he said, “they gotta get it back from me.”

The Cougars return to the field on Tuesday at 3pm against Texas A&M Corpus Christi at Schroeder Park as Cameron Prayer will get the start in making his Cougars debut, and other Cougars hitters will try to wrestle the hammer from Ian McMillan, and maybe a partial tooth.

Houston Cougars Sweep Opening Day Doubleheader

The Houston Cougars pre-game fielding drills Saturday at Schroeder Park.

Based on the weather in Houston just a handful of days ago, it is somewhat difficult to believe that actual college baseball took place at Schroeder Park on Saturday . . . But baseball did happen and the Houston Cougars took both games of a doubleheader with their neighbor across Scott Street, the Texas Southern Tigers by scores of 6-1 and 10-4.

Pitching dominated game one as left-hander Robert Gasser threw five innings and did not allow an earned run while limiting the Tigers to a single hit and striking out seven . . . Gasser got the win for his effort.

Steven Rivas and Ryan Hernandez did their part to support the pitching performances . . . The duo hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth to cushion the Cougar lead at 4-1 . . . Rivas went 2-for-3 in the game. . . Designated hitter Andrew Papantonis went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double, along with a stolen base.

Newcomer Junior College transfer Jaycob Deese was lights out over four scoreless innings to earn the save . . . Deese was throwing his fastball consistently over 90mph in all four innings he worked, and he was hitting 94mph on consecutive pitches at one point, topping-out at 95mph . . . Deese also dropped a pitch to 80mph to end an inning with a strikeout.

With the game one win, Houston improved to 30-0 all-time against Texas Southern, with one more game to play on the day.

Ben Sears took the hill for game two and though he got off to a rocky start, led by a defensive miscue behind him, he kept the Cougars in the game and ended up tossing five strong innings . . . Sears was consistently hitting 85-87mph, and hit 91mph at least once.

The Cougars offense really started to claw back in the fifth when they scored two to trim the deficit to 4-3 . . . With the game tied at four in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Hernandez hit his second home run of the day to put the Cougars in front 6-4, it was his seventh home run in his first seventeen games as a Cougar . . . Hernandez was 4-for-4 in the second game with an intentional walk . . . In the seventh, Steven Rivas hit his second double of the game in going 2-for-3 . . . Tyler Bielamowicz contributed three RBI and continues to get on base dating back to his 2020 campaign.

Dylan Post got the start at catcher from game two on Saturday and went 3-for-4 with a walk, including a single in three consecutive innings.

Matt Lazzaro also saw his first action of the season, and he was relieved by Andrew Belcik who would pick up the win, neither allowed a run . . . Layne Looney pitched the final three innings for the Cougars to earn the save . . . Six of Looney’s outs were strikeouts . . . Lazzaro, Belcik, and Looney were all making their debut with the Cougars.

The Cougars upped the record to 31-0 all-time versus Texas Southern . . . The two teams play one more game in this opening weekend series, Sunday at 2pm at Schroeder Park.

Takeaways from 2020 Red vs. White Series

The Cougars concluded their fall exhibition schedule on Sunday evening with a decisive game three in the Red vs. White World Series . . . Team Red walked it off in the final frame to take the game 5-4 and the series.

Having seen the primary starting pitchers from this past springs roster depart, it is a fair question to wonder who was going to fill those voids going into 2021 . . . If this weekend was any indicator, there are, at least for now, several directions the coaching staff could choose to go with so many new arms in the mix, and some returning pitchers.

Returners include Robert Gasser, Derrick Cherry, Isaiah Blaylock, Tanner Green, and Cole Ferguson, all of whom saw action on the mound this weekend . . . With the exception of Gasser, who started Friday’s game, the other pitchers all worked in relief efforts, most of which with pre-determined by either innings or pitch counts.

Junior college and other transfers include Jaycob Deese, Ben Sears, Blake Schultz, Maddux Miller, Cameron Prayer, Andrew Belcik, and Matt Lazzaro . . . Freshman newcomers include Patrick Dunn, John Alvey, Colby Casey, and Dravin Barber . . . The arms offered a variety of techniques and even physical abilities, with Dunn standing at 6-6 and Sears and Blaylock both at 6-5 for instance . . . These tall throwers offer the Cougars the ability to change the eye level of hitters expecting pitchers closer to the 6-foot frame . . . The pitchers also combine to offer a diverse mix of styles, some guys are raw power, while others are finesse guys able to hit spots and keep their pitch counts low by keeping the ball in the yard.

And those are just the pitchers that saw action this weekend.

The offense for the Cougars had the misfortune of having to face the Cougars pitching depth, but some hitters did have notable performances . . . Steven Rivas hit two homeruns in the weekend series, one on Friday night and one on Sunday night . . . Neither Rivas homerun was in doubt, with the second homerun traveling 416 feet just over the right-field foul pole . . . Freshman Samuel Tormos hit the only other homerun of the weekend, a three-run line-drive over the left-field fence on Friday night.

Brad Burckel had himself a Sunday evening . . . He tripled once to right-center to set up his scoring on a passed ball to give Red a 3-2 lead . . . An inning later Burckel sent his Red teammates home a winner with a fly ball single to the right-field wall that plated the winning run.

The Cougars defense was solid throughout the weekend . . . Freshman Will Pendergrass made some amazing off-balance field-and-throws from third . . . Luke Almendarez made some wide-ranging plays, a couple of them in key situations . . . Skyler Trevino also made some tremendous defensive plays at second on Friday night.

All told Team Red scored nine runs on the weekend to the Team White’s six runs in taking this 2020 Red vs. White Series . . . The team breaks for the winter in the coming days and then returns in January to get ready for whatever 2021 season takes shape. –