Houston Walks-Off Series Finale in 10

Luke Almendarez makes a throw to first in Sunday’s series finale with UTA

Fresh off a Saturday double-header, the Houston Cougars and UT-Arlington Mavericks needed one extra inning to settle Sunday’s series finale at Schroeder Park . . . The Cougars prevailed 5-4 in ten innings to split the weekend series as heavy clouds and sporadic rain showers held of just long enough.

The Mavericks wasted little time getting things going, a two-out single was followed by a two-run home run to right for an early 2-0 lead against Houston starter Ben Sears.

Houston leadoff hitter Brandon Uhse was attempting to bunt and instead got a pitch right in the mid-section of his body . . . He stayed in the game long enough to take his base and was eventually erased on an inning-ending double-play, but he left the game and Jonathan Thomas took his place in the batting order and in center field for the remainder of the game.

Steven Rivas led off the second inning by hitting the first pitch saw over the right field wall . . . The next three straight batters reached base for the Cougars on two singles and a walk . . . Samuel Tormos then hit a chopper to short and the fielders choice allowed Will Pendergrass to score from third . . . With Brad Burckel on third, Tormos took off for second in an attempt to steal second, Mavericks catcher Andrew Miller fired to second and Burckel broke for home, second baseman Tommy Williams was not able to field the throw cleanly, Burckel crossed home plate just moments before Tormos was thrown out at first base allowing the run to count and giving the Cougars a 3-2 lead.

Ben Sears got two outs in the sixth and after a walk he was relieved by Derrick Cherry . . . Cherry got a fly out to center to end the sixth frame for the Mavericks who stranded runners on second and third . . . Sears went 5 2/3 innings and only allowed the two earned runs in the first inning, he exited with the lead and the chance to win the game if the Houston lead held . . . Sunday’s outing was a solid rebound outing for Sears.

Derrick Cherry followed with a scoreless seventh, but the Mavericks tied the game in the eighth as they manufactured the unearned tying run . . . A scoreless ninth for both offenses sent the game to an extra frame.

In extra innings, with the rule in place that a runner starts on second base to begin each inning, the Mavericks immediately bunted their runner to third . . . A shallow fly to right-center was then caught by Steven Rivas and with the runner at third tagging, Rivas fired home, the throw was wide and Houston catcher Kyle Lovelace had to move to his right to field the ball and then dove toward the plate to attempt to get the runner, but the runner was ruled safe at home and UTA took a 4-3 lead.

The Cougars began their half of the tenth with pinch-runner Andrew Papantois on second base . . . Brad Burckel hit a slow roller up the first base line that the pitcher was unable to get a grip on, Papantonis moved to third on the play . . . It was Burckel’s second hit of the afternoon and he was the only Cougar with multiple hits . . . Ian McMillan followed with a single toward second base that the second baseman fielded but his throw to first as he was falling away from first was weak, and it allowed McMillan to reach on the single while Papantonis scored the tying run.

Kyle Lovelace came to the plate with no outs and runners on the corners . . . Lovelace bunted the first pitch between the mound and first base, the first baseman fielded with his glove and tossed the ball home in the same motion but Brad Burckel snuck in around the catchers tag attempt to score the winning run and give the Cougars a 5-4 win.

Ryne Huggins picked up the win, his first of the season, as the result of pitching 1/3 of an inning, ending the tenth . . . All told, Derrick Cherry pitched four innings and did not allow an earned run and added two strikeouts . . . In ten innings, the Cougars offense managed just six hits, but it was enough as five runs scored . . . The Cougars improve to 12-11 with the win Sunday and they spilt the series with the Mavericks; a series which featured thirteen home runs over the four games between the two squads.

The Cougars open conference play Thursday at Schroeder Park when they host Wichita State University for a four game series . . . The Easter weekend schedule will open with Thursday’s game beginning at 6:30pm, a double-header will be played on Friday beginning at 2pm, and the concluding game will begin at 11:30am on Saturday. –

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