A very windy afternoon with a cloudless sky greeted the Houston Cougars and the Cincinnati Bearcats for game two of their series Friday at Schroeder Park.
The ballgame got off to an ominous start as Clay Aguilar walked the leadoff batter. Then, he promptly picked-off the runner at first base for the first out of the game.
Part of the winning formula for Houston in recent weeks has included scoring runs early in the game . . . The Cougars returned to that formula on Friday when they jumped on Cincinnati starter Evan Shawver early . . . Jared Triolo worked a leadoff walk on seven pitches . . . Two outs later, Rey Fuentes lined a double all the way to the wall in right-center to score Triolo from first . . . Derrick Cherry hit the next pitch on the ground between the shortstop and the third baseman into left field, Fuentes was racing home from second and was going to beat any type of throw home, but the throw from left fielder Joey Wiemer was off and eventually ruled an error, which allowed Cherry to end up at second base.
The early 2-0 lead was just what the doctor ordered . . . Aguilar was able to pitch with a lead, he was changing speeds well, and he was getting his fastball high and low and got some ugly swings from Bearcat batters.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s Evan Shawver was on his game, after the run-scoring first inning, Shawver struck out eight Cougar batters and had 1-2-3 innings fives times in the game in his seven innings of work.
Houston only had five hits in the game, two of them by Kyle Lovelace in a 2-for-3 performance that raised his batting average again, he now sits at .232 on the year, a marked improvement over where he was just two weeks ago, and he is batting .313 in conference play this season.
Clay Aguilar went 6 1/3 innings allowing just one run on six hits while striking out five . . . Sean Bretz entered the game to relieve Aguilar and serve as a bridge to getting the ball to Fred Villarreal . . . Bretz was clocking 94mph as he worked a scoreless 2/3 of an inning to get the Cougars out of the seventh . . . Villarreal started the eighth as he was once again called upon to get six outs on his way to a save.
The two runs in the first would be all the Cougars would get until they tacked on another run in the bottom of the eighth in what could have been an explosive inning after Jared Triolo was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs . . . The Cougars settled for one run on a ground-out to short by Grayson Padgett which plated Lovelace from third to give Houston a 3-1 lead.
Over his two innings of work, Fred Villarreal struck out two and only allowed one hit in earning his ninth save on the season . . . Clay Aguilar picked up his fourth win of the year with his performance . . . The Cougars evened their conference record at 7-7 with the 3-1 victory.
The Cougars and the Bearcats conclude their weekend series with a rubber game Saturday at 1pm at Schroeder Park. An Easter egg hunt for the kids follows the game, so get to the ballpark on Saturday and bring the kids. –