Cougars Defeat Stanford in Round Rock

Round Rock Classic Cougars Beat

The Houston Cougars opened up the inaugural Round Rock Classic with a win over the Stanford Cardinal on Friday night in Round Rock at Dell Diamond.

Stanford got on the board in the first with an early 1-0 lead off of Cougars starter Lael Lockhart Jr. . . .  The Cougars got the run back in their half of the second on a Blake Way sacrifice fly to left and the game was tied at one going into the fourth . . . For Way, it was the first of three RBI in the game.

The Cougars bottom of the fourth was an adventure for everyone at Dell Diamond . . . Houston sent eleven batters to the plate and eight of them reached base with seven of them scoring . . . The Cougars took advantage of three errors in the frame, including two on one play by Stanford’s first baseman . . . The inning also saw two stolen bases, one by Blake Way, the other by Brad Burckel . . . After the big inning, Houston took an 8-1 lead into the fifth.

Lockhart Jr. settled in after the allowing the run in the first inning and was crisp with his pitches and command into the fifth when he started to scuffle a bit . . . With two outs and the bases loaded, the Cougars went to Isaiah Blaylock who quickly shut down the threat with a strikeout and without allowing any runs to score.

Stanford once again loaded the bases in the sixth, this time with no one out, and Brayson Hurdsman was brought in from the bullpen and he escaped the inning with no damage done . . . The Cardinal would get three runs in their half of the seventh to make the score 8-4.

With the game still 8-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Hernandez hammered a no-doubt three-run homerun to put the Cougars back on top by eight heading into the ninth . . . Hernandez has homered in three of his first four games as a Cougar.

Tristen Bayless entered the game in the eighth and pitched the final two innings striking out three and securing for Lael Lockhart Jr. his first win on the season and a 1-0 record while the team evened its record at 2-2 . . . Leadoff batters reached base in six of the eight innings for the Houston offense, four of those were hits, one was a walk, and the other was a hit-by-pitch.

The Cougars return to action Saturday at 2pm at Dell Diamond against the Tennessee Volunteers. –

 

Cougars Fall in Finale, Series

Jared Pettitte throws the first pitch on Sunday at Schroeder Park.
Jared Pettitte throws the first pitch on Sunday at Schroeder Park.

The Houston Cougars dropped the rubber game against the visiting Youngstown State Penguins on Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Park . . . And for the second day in a row, the two teams needed extra innings to get things settled.

Jared Pettitte got the Sunday start and was sharp early, striking out the first two batters. Pettitte gave up a homerun in the second inning, and a manufactured run in the fifth.

The Cougars got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. After Tyler Bielamowicz walked and then stole second, setting the table for Ryan Hernandez . . . Hernandez went deep to left field for a two-run homerun and an early 2-0 Cougars lead . . . For Hernandez it was his second homerun in as many games, and part of an impressive first series with the Cougars.

Fellow newcomer Steven Rivas added a three-run shot of his own in the third, concluding a four-run inning for the Cougars and giving them a 6-1 lead.

Pettitte lasted into the fifth, striking out four, and exited because of a pitch count with a 6-2 lead and one out . . . Tanner Green entered the game to get two outs to end the inning and pitched another three innings in relief.

The Penguins stormed back in the ninth with their backs against the wall. A three-run homerun got them within a run, and after a pitching change, a solo homerun tied the game at six . . . The Cougars offense could not answer back in the ninth, sending the game to the tenth inning.

The Penguins continued their late-inning heroics by putting the ball in play and executing flawlessly . . . They would load the bases with no one out, Houston would make a pitching change, but eventually two Penguins would score to take an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the tenth . . . Despite getting a runner on base, the Cougars could not crawl back and Youngstown State took finale and the series.

The Cougars hit the road now, and they open up the Round Rock Classic at Dell Diamond next Friday at 3pm. –

Cougars Fall in Extras 6-3

Clay Aguilar winds up to face Youngstown State Saturday night.
Clay Aguilar winds up to face Youngstown State Saturday night.

The Houston Cougars and the Youngstown State Penguins needed extra innings Saturday night for the second of their three-game opening weekend series.

Blake Way got the scoring started for the Cougars with a two-out solo homerun in the second to give Houston a 1-0 lead.

Clay Aguilar got the Saturday night start and he did not disappoint . . . Aguilar kept the Penguins at bay for most of his outing, some of the hits against him were of the “tough luck” variety, not solid hits as if opponents had timed Aguilar perfectly . . . A defensive error would lead to three unearned runs in the sixth and that brought Aguilar’s evening to an end.

Tristen Bayless took the mound and got out of the sixth on his first and only pitch of the inning . . . Bayless returned to the mound and before it was all over, he had gone 4 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball while striking out eight on forty-eight pitches . . . Bayless was sharp and he had hitters fooled several times.

The Cougars would crawl back from a 3-1 deficit, first with a seventh inning homerun by Friday night star Ryan Hernandez, a blast off of the black Houston Baseball sign in left-center, followed by an eighth inning homerun by Kobe Hyland off of the scoreboard in right-center.

Extra innings beckoned . . . Both teams went quietly in the tenth, but the Penguins jumped ahead when Penguins first baseman Steven D’Eusanio hit a three-run homerun to left-center in the top of the eleventh . . . Despite a comeback of their own in the eleventh, aided by a dropped fly ball in right field and the tying run at the plate, the Cougars dropped their first game of the 2020 season 6-3.

The Cougars conclude their series with the Penguins with a rubber game on Sunday at noon at Schroeder Park. –

Cougars Begin 2020 With 7-3 Win

Lael Lockhart Jr. delivers the first pitch of 2020 on Friday night at Schroeder Park.
Lael Lockhart Jr. delivers the first pitch of 2020 on Friday night at Schroeder Park.

The Houston Cougars under Todd Whitting have a strong record on opening weekends, and Friday night at Schroeder Park was no exception . . . The Cougars played host to the Youngstown State Penguins to get the 2020 campaign underway.

Lael Lockhart Jr. got the Friday night start, a familiar role for him after taking over as the Friday night starter last season . . . Lockhart was perfect through three innings with six strikeouts . . . Lockhart surrendered his first hit and run both in the fourth . . . An inning later, as some tough luck and defensive miscues took place behind him, Lockhart would exit as the Cougars fell behind for the first time in the game.

Junior college transfer Ryan Hernandez introduced himself to the Cougars fans in a big way . . . In his first at-bat, Hernandez drove a pitch deep to left-center to score Brad Burckel all the way from first and give Houston a 1-0 lead . . . Hernandez’s next two plate appearances each resulted in singles, at that point Youngstown State had seen enough, they issued an intentional pass in his next at-bat.

Brayson Hurdsman was outstanding out of the bullpen for the Cougars going the final four innings and striking out six along the way.

In the sixth inning, junior transfer Steven Rivas used his first plate appearance as a Cougar to hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to right to tie the game . . . Ian McMillan then punched a single into right field to give the Cougars a 4-3 lead.

Senior Tyler Bielamowicz got his final Cougars campaign off to a hot start with a 2-for-3 performance that included a walk . . . Bielamowicz drove in three runs on the night, including two in the seventh that placed some distance between the Cougars and the Penguins.

1,074 fans braved the chilly night of baseball and the home team delivered a 7-3 victory . . . The two teams return to the field at Schroeder Park on Saturday night at 6:30.

2020 Alumni Day Game Recap

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Red vs. White at Schroeder Park on Sunday.
(Photo courtesy of @Astronile on Twitter)

The 2020 baseball season got a step closer on Sunday at Schroeder Park as the Houston Cougars saw former ballplayers return home for a yearly event that included batting practice, players introductions, and this year, a solemn salute.

Prior to the game, a moment of silence was observed for John Altobelli, a tribute was read to the crowd while the video board displayed Altobelli’s picture with his years as a Cougar listed, then came the silence and head-bowing . . . The only time Schroeder Park is ever that quiet is when the games are over and the campus is empty . . . Coach Todd Whitting said before the game that he would be attending the memorial for Altobelli tomorrow in Anaheim, California at the Angels ballpark.

The game itself was basically an intrasquad affair, with former Cougars and now professional pitchers Joey Pulido and Nick Hernandez each throwing the first inning for Team White and Team Red respectively, but all fielders and hitters were members of the 2020 squad.

It is hard to tell much during what is an unpredictable game scenario of players switching sides, predetermined innings to pitch, along with only five innings of action to begin with . . . Spencer Hynes, Rey Mendoza, Nick Rupp, Tristen Bayless, Carter Henry and Randy Garza all saw some time on the mound.

Defensively there were some bright spots . . . Newcomer Ryan Hernandez is a big kid and he moves well at third base, he made at least one great play on a weak bouncer which he fielded cleanly and made an accurate off-balance throw . . . Kyle Lovelace threw out a runner trying to steal third . . . Newcomer Steven Rivas fielded a fly ball single on a bounce and the hitter tried to turn the single into a double, but Rivas’s throw to second was right on line and the runner was tagged out with room to spare . . . And Kobe Hyland continues to move smoothly at short.

All told the game ended after five innngs, as was scheduled . . . The rain in the forecast held off long enough for the game to be completed, the kids ran the bases, and autographs were signed in the Cougars dugout to cap off the day.

The Cougars start 2020 action on Friday at 6:30pm at Schroeder Park against Youngstown State, the first of a three-game weekend series to get the season underway.

Cougars Honor John Altobelli

John Altobelli is honored on Monday on the video board at Schroeder Park.
John Altobelli honored Monday on the video board at Schroeder Park.
Photo courtesy of Houston Cougars Baseball

Nearly the last thing a person would have thought about during the unfolding coverage of the crash of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter on Sunday was that there would be a University of Houston connection . . . And even if a connection was possible, it would have been easy to assume it was a basketball connection . . . Well, given enough time for the details to be discovered, sure enough, Cougars baseball was sadly part of an overall unbelievably tragic story.

Former Coogs baseball player and coach for a year, John Altobelli, along with his wife, and their daughter who played basketball with GiGi Bryant, were among the nine who died in the accident Sunday morning.

John Altobelli played for the Cougars in 1984 and 1985 and coached as an assistant in 1987, with a minor league stint in between . . . Altobelli took over the Orange Coast College baseball program in 1992, only leaving his previous coaching job at the time when the University of California Irvine shuttered its baseball program that year, the start of a ten-year hiatus from baseball for the school.

The next twenty-seven years were not easy for the baseball coach, but Altobelli compiled over 700 victories as a coach and he led numerous young men to be better men, better students, and better baseball players . . . All of this even as the game, and life in general, took its toll on him personally.

Asked in May of 2013 by the Orange County Register how much longer he would coach, Altobelli said, “I had open heart surgery a year ago last December. My knees aren’t holding up and I’m not throwing nearly as good in batting practice, but I’m still enthusiastic.”

Four years later, speaking with Spencer Golanka of Coast Report Online, Altobelli sounded the same note, “It [my body] has taken its toll, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. These guys know I’ll do anything for them.” He explained why the pains were worth it and why he would keep coaching, “I can still make an impact in young people’s lives, not so much x’s and o’s of baseball, but life things. I want to make sure they make good decisions off the field by being a good teammate and taking care of business”

Asked by the Orange County Register if hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports, Altobelli answered, “People that don’t really understand the nuances of the game will say that it’s not. But this is a sport that you have to grow up playing and you can’t take time off. I do think it’s the most difficult thing to do in sports, to hit a 93-mile-per-hour ball with a lot of movement on it.”

When a person is in the same place for 27 seasons, especially as something such as a baseball coach, they are doing something special, in John Altobelli’s case, what he was doing was bigger than just baseball.

Baseball tragically lost a great ambassador on Sunday . . . John Altobelli was a baseball man, he loved the game, he “felt it” in his blood, but his lasting impact was bigger than baseball . . . Cougars Nation can be proud we crossed paths with this servant leader for a short time; a short time with a lasting impact.

“Officially a Coog!” Signing Day 2019

Nine high school baseball players made their commitment to Cougars Baseball official on Wednesday as part of official events for national signing day . . . Future Coogs Rome Shubert, Patrick Dunn, Brandon Uhse, Evan Maldonado, Ben Sears, Will Pendergrass, Samuel Tormos, Josh Brown, and Bo Hogeboom all put pen to paper to declare themselves “officially a Coog!”