On the Minor League Baseball website a short blurb announced that Joe Davis has retired from professional baseball.
Davis, the all-time Houston home run leader, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2019 and remained in their system thru the 2022 season. There was no minor league baseball in 2020, so after being drafted and getting initiated in a brief 2019 stint, Davis did not play again until the 2021 season.
Davis hit 42 home runs and drove in 150 runs while batting .274 over his three professional seasons.
Wednesday was National Signing Day across our great land, and the University of Houston baseball team inked numerous high school seniors to letters of intent. The signees include: Ace Reese, Landon Bowden, Diego Luzardo, Larry Drake, Riley Pechacek, Logan Simmons, Tristan Russell, Conner Bennett, and Braylen Collins.
Three Houston Cougars from the 2022 squad heard their names called during the final day of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday afternoon, along with one former Cougar and two Houston commits.
Ben Sears was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 14th Round.
Logan Clayton, who had transferred away from Houston after the season ended, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 17th Round.
Jaycob Deese was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th Round.
Samuel (Sammy) Hernandez, a catcher at Lakeland High School in Florida, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 14th Round.
Kevin Kilpatrick, a college transfer who was committed to Houston, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 17th Round.
Jonathan Thomas, a former Cougar who played for Texas Southern in 2022, was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 19th Round.
Players, whether drafted or undrafted, have until August 1st to sign a contract with the team that drafted them or as a free agent if they were not drafted.
Rolan Walton has passed away. He was the last living member of the Cougars first baseball team of 1947. When he returned later to coach at UH, he was twice named SWC Coach of the Year (1975, 1982) as he compiled a 378–235–5 record over 12 seasons. Walton was inducted into the Houston Athletics Hall of Honor in 2006.
Coach Walton was incredibly gracious with his time, we visited at his home and recorded a podcast in 2020, which will be released at a later time, but he was proud of his time(s) as a Houston Cougar and was a great storyteller. His red UH cap was always by his front door.
The Houston Cougars saw their season come to end on Sunday afternoon in Clearwater as they fell 6-1 to East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference Championship final.
While East Carolina was able to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the Cougars found no such luck with the Pirates pitching staff.
Freshman Cameron Nickens was 3-for-3 on Sunday afternoon and drove in the only Cougars run on a single in the top of the seventh inning . . . Nickens accounted for half of the Cougars six base hits in the contest.
Maddux Miller pitched 2 2/3 innings out of the bullpen at a critical point in the game and he was outstanding, striking out five Pirates batters . . . Ben Sears followed Miller and was equally great, also over 2 2/3 innings where he did not allow a hit and struck out three batters.
Where Houston saw its season end on the second day of the AAC Championship in each of their last two appearances, the Cougars made it to the final game in 2022 and the very young Cougars team experienced what it takes to play big time, competitive baseball.
Ryan Hernandez played his final game as a Houston Cougar on Sunday, and just as he has been the epitome of class and hard work during his three years with the program, he was just as classy and prideful in his postgame comments.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Hernandez said. “I love being a Houston Cougar. When I first committed here, I committed as soon as I got the opportunity to commit here.”
Head coach Todd Whitting was still hopeful and positive about both the season and the future after the loss Sunday.
“This is still one of my favorite teams I’ve ever had,” Whitting said. “Coming off a tough year last year, just the unbelievable commitments to the program, to the University of Houston, and to what we were trying to do.”
“We got a couple of holes to fill going in to next year, I feel good about it. We start three freshmen every day, we got a ton of guys coming back. The future is bright at the University of Houston,” Whitting said.
Reflecting on some of the great times during his career at Houston, Hernandez said, “I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve had a great time here and I’m really appreciative of that.”
Hernandez was selected to the All-Tournament Team after Sunday’s game, along with teammates Jose Torrealba, Santiago Garcia, and Anthony Tulimero.
The Cougars finish the season 37-24. The 2022 offseason begins now.
Houston had two chances to advance to the American Athletic Conference Championship final on Sunday and they capitalized on the second one with a 9-6 victory over UCF on Saturday night in Clearwater.
In the opening frame of game one, Santiago Garcia singled into right-center, scoring Alex Lopez from second base and the Cougars led 1-0.
Brandon Burckel hit a one-out double off of the wall in left field in the top of the fourth inning, forcing the Knights to go to the bullpen . . . One out later, Lopez hit the first pitch of his at-bat over the wall in right-center field and the Cougars lead was increased to 3-0.
The Knights rallied and scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead.
Ian McMillan tied the game in the top of the fifth inning with a two-out solo home run to right field . . . With the Cougars trailing 7-4 in the top of the seventh inning, McMillan hit his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left field to get the Cougars to within a run.
Garcia led off the top of the ninth inning with a single into right field . . . Ryan Hernandez sent the next pitch over the wall in left field to tie the game at eight.
The Knights had an answer in the bottom of the tenth inning as they manufactured a run to walk-off as 9-8 winners, forcing a second game of the day to settle matters.
Houston jumped out to another early lead, this time with a three-spot in the opening frame . . . But the Knights answered right back with three runs in their half of the first inning.
Brandon Uhse stole second in the fifth inning and Tulimero drove him home on a two-out single to right-center field as Houston regained the lead 4-3.
After tying the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, UCF plated two runs in the sixth inning to take a 6-4 lead.
Houston tied the game in the top of the eighth inning when a one-out single by McMillian into left-center scored two.
Still tied in the top of the ninth, Tulimero hit a two-out three-run home run over the left field wall to give the Cougars a 9-6 lead going to the bottom of the ninth.
Jose Torrealba returned to the mound for the second time in the day to close out the victory that would send the Cougars to the Sunday championship game, and he retired all three batters he faced in the ninth after the hard luck loss in the first game walk-off loss.
Houston used seven pitchers in game two . . . Maddux Miller, Jackson Dannelley, Logan Clayton, and Torrealba all pitched a scoreless inning or more . . . Cameron Prayer went three innings at a crucial point and really helped stabilize things after a rough opening frame.
“You know, obviously any win is momentum,” Tulimero said after the game. “But we have a saying on this team, ‘if you sleep on the win, you’ll wake up to a loss.’ We’re gonna get in the clubhouse, celebrate a bit, flush it, come back tomorrow looking to win the championship.”
Houston will face East Carolina on Sunday morning, at 11am CT . . . A win on Sunday means a trip to a Regional next weekend, while a loss means the end of the season.
Houston kept their season going by defeating Memphis 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Clearwater on Thursday night in the American Athletic Conference Championship.
Brandon Uhse (4-for-5) hit the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning over the wall in deep left-center . . . Alex Lopez (4-for-6) doubled down the left field line in front of Anthony Tulimero who hit a monster home run to left-center and the Cougars led 3-0 before an out had been recorded in the inning.
The Cougars added a run in the second inning when Lopez, attempting to steal second base, was caught in a rundown allowing Uhse to score from third base.
After the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning, Uhse and Lopez led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and a double, respectively . . . Tulimero then delivered a double into left-center field to push the Cougars lead back up to four runs, 6-2.
A four-run top of the sixth inning tied the game at six as the Cougars used three different pitchers to get through the frame . . . Memphis then took a 7-6 lead in the top of the sixth inning.
The Cougars tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when a throwing error at third base allowed Brandon Burckel to score when the ball bounced into the Houston dugout.
Still tied at seven in the bottom of the ninth inning, Burckel led off with a single into center field and then he stole second base on a pitch that was up-and-in and delayed the Tiger catcher from making a throw to second base . . . Uhse was intentionally walked before a Lopez sacrifice fly to right field moved Burkcel to third base . . . Tulimero was the second intentional walk of the inning, which loaded the bases . . . Santiago Garcia laced a one-out single down the third base line to drive in Burckel from third base for the winning run as the Cougars walked it off 8-7.
The Cougars used six pitchers in the victory. Logan Clayton, Cameron Prayer, and Jose Torrealba all pitched scoreless relief . . . Houston out-hit Memphis nineteen to twelve in the game, and eight different Cougars had base hits . . . Houston continues to play solid defensively and did not commit an error on Thursday, while Memphis committed two errors.
“In that moment, it’s just going back to being a little kid,” Garcia said after the game. “Getting in situations like that, it’s fun. It’s really just taking a deep breath, enjoying the moment, trying to put a good swing on a ball, and whatever happens, happens.”
Head coach Todd Whitting has continued to reiterate that there are no roles right now, he and his staff are simply choosing players who they think can get the job done in certain situations, which is another way of saying it’s all hands on deck right now.
The Cougars now have a day off on Friday and will play their next game on early Saturday afternoon when they will face the winner of a late Friday afternoon matchup between Memphis and UCF . . . If Houston stumbles at any point, they know right now they have the luxury of needing to be defeated twice to be eliminated.
Houston fought until the end on Saturday afternoon, but fell 3-2 in ten innings to East Carolina to close out the regular season schedule ahead of the conference tournament next week.
After a double play cleared the bases in the top of the second inning, Santiago Garcia reached base with a single into center field . . . Malachi Lott then bounced a ball high and over the outstretched first baseman for a double, moving Garcia to third base . . . Samuel Benjamin followed with a double to right-center field plating both runners and Houston led 2-0 after three straight two-out hits.
The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the eighth when back-to-back doubles by the Pirates tied the game.
Still tied in the bottom of the tenth inning, the Pirates took advantage of a one-out double when an infield single allowed the winning run to round third base and score safely at home for the 3-2 win.
Neither team committed an error in the contest, as both finish the season ranked high in defensive percentage . . . The Pirates only out-hit the Cougars by one, nine to eight.
Houston will stay in Greenville tonight and then will travel to Clearwater, Florida on Sunday . . . The Cougars do not yet know their first opponent in the conference tournament, but they do know they will play the final game of the day on Tuesday which will sure last late into the evening.
Houston lost 5-3 to East Carolina on Saturday night, and while the Cougars now know their place in next week’s American Athletic Conference tournament in Clearwater, they do not know who their first opponent will be once they get there.
The Pirates plated a pair of runs in each of the first two innings on Saturday and held a 4-0 lead through four innings.
Anthony Tulimero (2-for-4) led off the top of the fifth inning with a single that squeezed between the shortstop and third baseman and rolled into left field . . . One out later, Ryan Hernandez hit his twelfth home run of the season over the wall in right-center field to cut the East Carolina lead in half, 4-2.
Zach Arnold (2-for-4) added a one-out RBI single in the top of the sixth inning, driving in Samuel Tormos who had reached on a throwing error, and Houston only trailed 4-3.
The Cougars got no closer than that, with the Pirates adding a run in the eighth inning and taking a 5-3 lead, which would be the final score . . . The Cougars got in some work for six pitchers in the game, in the next-to-last preparation before play begins in Clearwater on Tuesday . . . The Houston offense only collected five hits on Saturday, by just three players.
A loss by UCF earlier on Saturday opened up an opportunity for the Cougars to make things more interesting if they could win their final two games, but with the loss to East Carolina, Houston clinched the third spot in the standings as they wait to find out who they will face in their first game in Clearwater, though it will be a contest between either Memphis or Wichita State in the late game on Tuesday night.
Houston and East Carolina close out the regular season on Saturday afternoon with a 12 noon start time . . . Both teams will head to Clearwater after the series to prepare for the conference tournament which begins on Tuesday morning . . . The Cougars have not named a Saturday starter at this point.