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.