Hernandez Homers Three Times in Opener, Cougars Drop Twin Bill

Jaycob Deese offers up the first pitch in game two of Saturday’s double-header

The Mavericks of UT-Arlington took both games of a Saturday twin bill by a combined score of 20-14 over the Houston Cougars at Schroeder Park.

Before the Cougars came to bat in the first, they were already attempting to erase a 3-0 deficit . . . With one out, Luke Almendarez hit his first collegiate home run to trim the UTA lead to 3-1 . . . The Mavericks then added a grand slam in the third to increase their early lead to 7-1 . . . Carter Henry relieved starter Blake Schultz in the third.

In the Cougars half of the third, Ryan Hernandez hit a two-out three-run home run to draw the game closer at 7-4 . . . After the Mavericks added two runs in the top half of the fifth, Hernandez hit his second home run in as many at-bats, sending one 424 feet to cut into the UTA lead 9-5.

Hernandez hit his third home run of the game in the seventh, a two-run shot with Luke Almendarez on second after a one-out double to left-center . . . Almendarez (3-for-5) and Hernandez (3-for-4) were the only Cougars with multiple hits in game one, they each had three hits . . . Hernandez is the first Houston Cougar to homer three times in a single game since Connor Wong did it against Tulane in April 2017.

Carter Henry threw 5 2/3 innings in his appearance, allowing three hits and three strikeouts . . . Henry’s outing was a tremendous boost for the bullpen as he ate up a lot of innings after a short start from Blake Schultz . . . Tyler Bielamowicz recorded the first out in the top of the ninth when he went high on the left field wall to bring back what was sure to be a two-run home run, instead it was recorded as a long out.

Mavericks shortstop Josh Minjarez hit his second home run of the game with two outs in the ninth to give his team a 12-7 lead that the Mavericks would hold on to after a scoreless final two innings from the Cougars offense.

Jaycob Deese took the mound for the Cougars in game two, making his first start for Houston but his ninth appearance.

In the bottom of the first, Steven Rivas doubled to plate one run in giving Houston an early 1-0 lead. . . Will Pendergrass followed with a two-run home run to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead . . .For Pendergrass, it was his second home run in as many days and his fourth of the season as he went 2-for-3 and walked once in the second game.

UTA took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when a sacrifice fly to center scored a runner from third who had reached base on a double and then moved over to third on a groundout . . . Brad Burckel put the Cougars back in front when he hit a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right field to give the Cougars a 5-4 advantage in the fourth.

UTA tied the game at five in the seventh on a solo home run to center field as Deese’s night came to an end . . . Prayer relieved Deese after the home run and go three fast outs to end the frame . . . Prayer went 2 2/3 innings being replaced with two outs in the eighth by Layne Looney . . . Looney would add another inning of work, holding the Mavericks and keeping the Cougars within three at 8-5 . . . The Cougars mounted a two-run rally in the ninth but they fell a run short in the 8-7 Saturday finale.

The Cougars and the Mavericks close out the four-game weekend series on Sunday at Schroeder Park . . . Houston has not yet announced a starting pitcher, though with recent history it would be safe to assume right-hander Ben Sears will take the ball for Todd Whitting’s team . . . First pitch is at 1pm. –

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