Cougars Lose American Championship Opener

Houston Cougars Baseball

The American Conference Championship got underway Tuesday morning in Clearwater, Florida with the first pitch between the UConn Huskies and the Houston Cougars . . . The ability for any team to determine its path can be realized by just playing one game at a time, keep winning, you keep playing, lose a game, and the slope becomes much steeper to climb.

Houston sent Lael Lockhart Jr. to the mound for the morning start, and Lockhart seemed to have adapted well . . . A mistake by Lockhart in the second inning found its way to the left field seats, but Lockhart was very much in control scattering just four other hits through six innings of work as Lockhart took the game into the seventh inning.

Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Jared Triolo got the Cougars on the scoreboard with a no-doubter to left to cut the lead to 2-1 . . . The homerun was part of a 2-for-4 morning for Triolo . . . Joe Davis evened the score at two with a solo homerun of his own to left-center in the top of the sixth inning.

The Cougars took the lead in the top of the seventh when Kobe Hyland singled home Grayson Padgett to make the score 3-2 . . . Padgett had reached base when he was hit by a pitch and then stole second.

In the bottom of the seventh Lockhart surrendered his fifth and final hit, a homerun to left, which tied the game at three . . . Sean Bretz entered the game and eventually ended the inning, making way for Fred Villarreal . . . Villarreal pitched a scoreless eighth sending the tied ballgame to the ninth.

Houston loaded the bases in the top of the ninth but could not push a run across . . . In the bottom of the ninth, a leadoff single would eventually end up on second, and that run would be driven home by UConn third baseman David Langer with a single to center off of Villarreal to give the Huskies a 4-3 win.

The Cougars will play Wednesday at 2pm Houston time, the opponent is not yet known, but it will be the loser of the East Carolina and Wichita State game which starts forty-seven minutes after the Cougars game ended, so we will know the opponent soon enough. –

Cougars Drop Regular Season Finale in 11

Houston Cougars Baseball

For the UCF Knights and the Houston Cougars, fifty-four games would not quite be enough to put the finishing touch on the 2019 regular season . . . The Knights and the Cougars went ahead and played eleven innings on Saturday night in Orlando.

The Cougars fail behind early, and the lesson is clear, digging yourself too deep a hole almost never works out . . . UCF was leading 7-1 by the end of the third and nothing in the Houston offense this week indicated that a comeback was possible . . . However, in the top of the fourth the Cougars put together a rally on a series of two-out two-RBI hits to plate four in the inning and get back into the game 7-5.

In the seventh, the Cougars tied the game at eight capped off by a two-RBI single to left by Joe Davis who batted with the bases loaded after having been intentionally walked three times up to that point (he would also be intentionally walked in the ninth).

The Knights got two runs back in the bottom of the seventh to take a 10-8 lead . . . In the top of the ninth, with Jared Triolo stealing third and Landon Etzel stealing second, the UCF catcher launched his throw into left field . . . Triolo scored easily, and Etzel just barely beat the throw home to score all the way from first on the play and tie the game at ten.

UCF finally broke through in the eleventh when they loaded the bases after an intentional pass and with the infield playing in with one out, a pop fly to left was just out of the reach of a hustling Blake Way, the ball fell in and the winning run crossed the plate for the Knights.

The 11-10 regular season-ending affair lasted just over five hours and the Cougars used six pitchers and plenty of bench players in the effort . . . Of the six pitchers used, Fred Villarreal who pitched two innings, was the only pitcher not to allow a run . . . Houston also left eighteen runners in scoring position . . . The big comebacks are always difficult, so much energy is expended getting the game back to even, that often nothing is left for what comes next.

The Cougars are off until Tuesday morning when they will open the American Conference tournament against UConn in Clearwater, Florida . . . First pitch is at 8am Houston time. –

Cougars Shutout UCF 2-0, Even Series

Houston Cougars Baseball

After a lopsided shutout on Thursday night, Friday night’s game between the Houston Cougars and the UCF Knights proved to be more of a taste of a series between two teams with nearly identical records.

Clay Aguilar took the hill for the Cougars and though he was laboring through long innings early, he was putting up zeroes and keeping the Knights off the board . . . He parted the game with a runner on but no outs in the fifth in favor of Sean Bretz, who subsequently ended the inning and pitched two scoreless innings on the night.

The game slugged along with base runners, but stranded base-runners . . . Neither team scored until the top of the seventh, and neither team scored after that frame.

Joe Davis would provide all the offense the Cougars needed on Friday night when he hit a two-run homerun to center in the seventh, his seventeenth of the season, and his first since April 12th at Wichita State . . . For Davis the homer was part of a 2-for-3 night, only Brad Burckel joined Davis with multiple hits in the game.

Fred Villarreal pitched a scoreless final three frames to earn his tenth save of the year . . . For UCF, this was their first nine-inning shutout of the season . . . Sean Bretz picked up the win, his second of the year . . . Clay Aguilar lowered his ERA to 2.65, which is an extraordinary number for someone who did not start the season as the “Saturday starter” but has moved into the role nicely.

The Cougars can claim the road series on Saturday when they conclude the series with UCF at 5pm Houston time in Orlando. –

Cougars Drop Opener in Orlando

Houston Cougars Baseball

The season’s final series of the year got underway on Thursday evening in Orlando, Florida as the University of Central Florida Knights hosted the Houston Cougars . . . The Knights and the Cougars entered Thursday with relatively equal records overall, both in and out of conference.

Knights starter Grant Schuermann had the Cougars solved early on it seemed . . . Houston had a runner reach third only once, in the fourth inning . . . Schuermann went eight scoreless innings allowing only four Cougars hits.

Lael Lockhart Jr. was a tough-luck loser on the night, he pitched reasonably well and was not hit very hard . . . A pop foul that should have been caught by either Kyle Lovelace or Joe Davis was instead a second chance for catcher Dallas Beaver, who then walked, and would eventually score, while there were also two errors behind Lockhart in the inning, an inning where the Knights scored three times to take a 3-0 lead.

Nolan Bond relieved Lockhart in the sixth and took the game into the ninth when Spencer Hynes pitched a scoreless frame in his first game action since April 6.

Only five Cougars had base hits on Thursday, with Joe Davis collecting two of them in a 2-for-4 effort . . . The Cougars led off the ninth who two singles by Wendell Champion and Joe Davis, but they would remain on second and first respectively as the next three batters each went down on strikes and handed UCF an 8-0 shutout.

The final regular season series of the season continues Friday in Orlando at 5pm Houston time. –

Cougars Edged by Rice 2-1

Houston vs. Rice Owls 5-14-2019
Jared Pettitte prepares for the first pitch Tuesday in Sugar Land.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

After a soggy week in the Houston area, Constellation Field in Sugar Land provided a perfect atmosphere for baseball on Tuesday night as the Houston Cougars and Rice Owls played their third game of the season against each other, this one was the rubber game to see who would take home the Silver Glove.

Jared Pettitte made his fourth start of the season and he was getting good movement in his three innings of work . . . Leadoff walks in the third and fourth would score in both innings, the only two runs of the night for Rice . . . In both instances, the leadoff walks were followed by more free baserunners, a walk in the third and a hit batter in the fourth.

The Cougars got on the board in the fifth when Tyler Bielamowicz hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Jared Triolo who had reached base by getting hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.

Aside from Cherry, Houston’s offense was mostly silenced by Rice pitching . . . The Cougars were limited to the one run and only six hits . . . The six hits were collected by only three Cougars, Cherry had three, Burckel had two, and Jared Triolo had a two-out single in the six . . . Nine walks kept runners on the bases all evening for the Cougars, that make the fourteen runners left on base a difficult stat to accept in a one-run loss.

Cougars pitching did not allow a run after the fourth inning as Nolan Bond, Brayson Hurdsman, and Devon Roedahl went the final six innings worth and only allowed two hits.

Derrick Cherry reached base all five times he batted on Tuesday with three singles and two walks . . . A disciplined ninth inning at-bat ended with a one-out single to center that moved Brad Burckel from first to second ahead of potential late-inning heroics, but it was not to be as the next two Cougars batters both grounded out to give Rice the 2-1 victory and the Silver Glove to hold onto for a year.

The Cougars will travel to Orlando, Florida to begin a three-game weekend series with the University of Central Florida to close out the regular season schedule . . . The series in Orlando begins Thursday at 5:00pm local time. –

Cougars Take Tulane 5-2

Houston vs. Tulane 5-12-2019
Photo by Cougars Beat

Sunday afternoon offered the Houston Cougars and the Tulane Green Wave a complete contrast to Saturday afternoon and evening, and early Sunday morning for that matter . . . Where Saturday was rainy, then misty, then humid, then misty again, Sunday was occasionally breezy, sunny with a blue sky and white clouds, and about half as humid as Saturday at the ballpark. 

Sunday was also Mother’s Day and Senior Day, so it made sense for the weather to cooperate . . . Cougars fans bid farewell and said thank you to Joe Davis, Nolan Bond, Grayson Padgett, Rey Fuentes, and Ryan Randel . . . Randel and Bond had something extra for the fans, and for the Tulane offense.

After two quiet innings, Derrick Cherry put the Cougars on the board and in the lead with a two-RBI single in the third . . . The single scored both Kyle Lovelace and Jared Triolo who had both walked to reach base . . . Cherry was 3-for-4 on the afternoon with two RBI on the afternoon.

The Cougars added another run the seventh when Kobe Hyland hit a two-out RBI double to center in the 7th to take a 3-0 lead.

Ryan Randel was very good on Sunday and was not in much trouble at any point . . . When Randel exited after 7 1/3 innings, he had only allowed 2 unearned runs on three hits . . . He left with the bases loaded after an error, a batter hit by a pitch, and an intentional walk, so it was not the worst of circumstances . . . Two runs would score on a bloop hit off of Nolan Bond, who had taken over on the mound for Randel in the eighth, but the damage was limited and Houston held on to a 3-2 lead.

Houston started the eighth with two singles before Tyler Bielamowicz put down a sacrifice bunt to score Jared Triolo and Lael Lockhart Jr. followed with a single to center batting right-handed – it was Lockhart’s second hit of the game, this one scoring Derrick Cherry and giving the Cougars a 5-2 lead.

Bond recorded the final five outs of the game, escaping too much damage in the eighth and getting Tulane down in order in the ninth to close out the game . . . Bond earned his first save of the year in securing the 5-2 win . . . Ryan Randel he picked up his fourth win of the year.

After playing 28 innings of baseball in the last 25 hours, the Cougars are off on Monday and return to action on Tuesday against Rice down in Sugar Land at Constellation Field . . . First pitch is at 7:05pm. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap

Cougars Split Saturday Twin Bill with Tulane

Houston and Tulane played a double-header on Saturday with the threat of rain. Photo by Cougars Beat.
Houston hosted Tulane on Saturday with the threat of rain.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

The Houston Cougars and the Tulane Green Wave had to wait for yet another rain storm to pass before they finally begin their scheduled doubleheader, one hour later than originally planned . . . Once the first pitch was finally thrown, with light rain still falling, it was the beginning of over eight hours of baseball as Saturday afternoon eventually ran into Sunday morning.

. . .

A sixteen-minute delay began at 1am as the ballpark lights went out because they were on a timer and set to shut-off . . . Once the lights go out, they need fifteen minutes to warm-up and power-on again.

Cougars Sweep UNLV with 9-2 Victory

Houston Cougars faces UNLV Sunday at Schroeder Park. Photo by @5_Coogs via Twitter.
Houston Cougars faces UNLV Sunday at Schroeder Park.
Photo by @5_Coogs via Twitter.

A sunny and hot afternoon with clouds dotting the sky greeted the UNLV Rebels and the Houston Cougars Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Park . . . The Cougars arrived winners of two straight, including a 2-0 shut-out of UNLV on Saturday night.

Left-hander Clay Aguilar started Sunday’s game and surrendered a run in the opening frame, Cougars would get it back quickly when Jared Triolo hit his sixth homerun of the season to leadoff the bottom of the first . . . For Aguilar, the looping single by Bryson Stott to leadoff the game was the last batter to reach base until the fifth inning, Aguilar retired thirteen straight Rebels in that span . . . For Triolo, the leadoff homerun was the first of five hits in the game in a 5-for-5 afternoon that included five RBI.

The Cougars started their half of the sixth with three straight doubles followed by a single, they would score two runs in the inning to extend their one-run lead to 5-2.

Clay Aguilar exited the game in the sixth with two outs and runners on second and third . . . Sean Bretz entered the game and walked the bases loaded, but clutch pitching left the bases loaded for the Rebels in the sixth and Bretz would work out of another bases-loaded situation in the seventh inning . . . Bretz went a total of 1 1/3 innings scoreless to bridge the game from Aguilar to Villarreal.

The Cougars offense scored two runs in four different innings on Sunday . . . The offense also pounded out seventeen hits and even though they scored nine runs, they had plenty of opportunities to score more runs leaving eleven runners on base . . . Every Houston starter got at least one base hit, with Derrick Cherry and Kobe Hyland both getting two hits, and Grayson Padgett got two hits going 2-for-2 off the bench.

Righty Fred Villarreal handled the final two innings of action on Sunday, entering the game in the top of the eighth . . . Villarreal retired all six batters he faced, getting four groundballs to help his cause, and he did it all on only eighteen pitches . . . Aguilar collected his sixth win on the year in his tenth start, he allowed only two runs in his 5 2/3 innings and struck out four.

The Cougars are off now until Wednesday when they face Florida Atlantic University at Schroeder Park . . . Houston takes a three-game winning streak into the midweek matchup . . . First pitch is at 6:30pm on Wednesday. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap

Cougars Shut-Out UNLV 2-0

Lael Lockhart Jr. faces UNLV at Schroeder Park on Saturday night. Photos by Cougars Beat.
Lael Lockhart Jr. faces UNLV at Schroeder Park on Saturday night.
Photos by Cougars Beat.

Potential inclement weather canceled Friday night’s game between the UNLV Rebels and the Houston Cougars . . . Having decided the game would not be made up meant the two teams could stretch their lineups as needed with this brief two-game series.

The Cougars offense was in business in the bottom of the first after a Brad Burckel walk and a stolen base, then an intentional pass to Joe Davis . . . Derrick Cherry put a ball in play toward short that was too slow for the UNLV defense to turn a double play, when Cherry was safe at first, Burckel was the first run to score for the Cougars when he crossed home . . . After a Tyler Bielamowicz single, Rey Fuentes followed with a clean single up the middle into center field which scored Derrick Cherry from third to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.

Lael Lockhart Jr. got his eleventh start of the season against UNLV, and he was cruising for the most part . . . The few times Lockhart faced adversity, he was quick to get out of it without any damage, in one instance Kyle Lovelace caught a popped bunt in front of homeplate and doubled-up the runner on first with a quick, accurate throw . . . In another instance Brad Burckel fielded a bouncing ball right on top of second base with a running bearing down on him, his throw to first completed another double-play behind Lockhart.

The innings pitched quickly stacked up as Lockhart faced only three batters in five of his innings pitched . . . Lockhart eventually took the mound in the eighth inning still maintaining his 2-0 lead.

Bryson Stott entered Friday’s action hitting .365 for UNLV, the highest batting average on the team and the team leader in homeruns with ten . . . Stott was 0-for-4, striking out twice against Lockhart who went 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball against a good hitting team that only got five hits off of him and struck out five times.

Devon Roedahl came into the game with two outs in the eighth to get the final out with two runners put on base by Lockhart . . . Roedahl induced a ground ball to short that Kobe Hyland handled easily to get the runner at first and end the inning . . . Roedahl returned to the mound for the ninth after the Cougars went down in order in the bottom of the eighth.

An error at third was followed by a deep grounder to short, Kobe Hyland was able to field the ball but unable to make a clean throw to Burckel at second as Kobe was falling away from the throw . . . Roedahl struck out the next two batters, then loaded the bases with a walk, he then recorded his third strikeout of the inning to end the game and secure the 2-0 win for Houston . . . Roedahl did not allow a hit in his 1 1/3 innings that earned him his fourth save on the year . . . Lockhart for his outstanding effort was rewarded with his fourth win as he loaded his ERA to 3.03 with his scoreless effort.

The shortened weekend series with UNLV concludes Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Park, first pitch is at 1pm. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap

Cougars Romp at Rice in Extras

Devon Roedahl faces the Rice Owls in the 9th inning Tuesday night. Photo by Cougars Beat.
Devon Roedahl faces the Rice Owls in the 9th inning Tuesday night.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

The Rice Owls had won six straight entering play on Wednesday night, and the Houston Cougars were coming off a series loss last weekend in Tampa, Florida . . . The first inning indicated that the streaks would continue, but there is a reason baseball has nine innings and sometimes a tenth.

Wednesday night got off to a shaky start as the Owls scored two runs on three hits and a hit batter . . . The got one hit in the first, and would not get another hit until sixth.

Right-hander Nolan Bond took the mound to start the second inning after Brayson Hurdsman started the game pitching only the first . . . Bond retired the first seven batters he faced as his breaking balls were finding the strike zone and his fastballs were finding the corners and freezing batters for called third strikes . . . In the bottom of the fourth two walks and a fielders choice in addition to a high pitch count after a long layoff ended Bond’s night after 2 2/3 innings.

Sean Bretz would relieve Nolan Bond in the bottom of the fourth and get the final out to keep the Rice lead to 2-0 . . . Bond’s outing was a welcome result after a rocky first inning for the Cougars, and it would be the first of four good outings for the Cougars bullpen in the game.

Houston was held scoreless going into the eighth, and after a leadoff strike out, things did not look to be changing . . . After Kobe Hyland walked and Kyle Lovelace singled, both moved into scoring position after a wild pitch . . . Jared Triolo, who had a great game defensively with plenty of opportunities, hit a clutch two-out double down the right-field line as he went where the pitch was thrown and even the score 2-2.

In the tenth, the Cougars managed to score six runs on only one hit, instead relying on six walks, an intentional walk, and a batter hit by a pitch . . . The single came when Kobe Hyland hit a two-out single to right to drive in the fifth of the Cougars six runs in the inning . . . In a game where the Cougars managed to score eight runs in ten innings, they did it on only five hits . . . Kyle Lovelace was the only Cougar with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4 and walked once.

The Cougars bullpen went nine scoreless innings after Hurdsman left the game after the first inning . . . The Owls only collected five hits in the final nine innings and the Cougars only issued three walks while striking out eight.

Devon Roedahl picked up his seventh win on the year after 2 2/3 innings of work at the end of the game . . . Roedahl struck out four and looked really strong all the way through the final out in the tenth . . . The Cougars improve to 27-18 on the season with the 8-2 victory, and they evened 2019’s Silver Glove Series, which will be decided with a third and final game in a little under two weeks down in Sugar Land.

The Cougars are off tomorrow and host University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) on Friday for a weekend non-conference series . . . The weather forecast is looking ominous so if you plan to attend any part of this weekend series, you will want to check for updates . . . As of now, first pitch Friday is at 6:30pm. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap