Cougars Split Weekend Opener with South Florida

Robert Gasser delivers a first pitch strike on Saturday at Schroeder Park

After Friday’s weather altered the weekend series between the Houston Cougars and the South Florida Bulls, a cloudless sky greeted the two teams on a warm Saturday afternoon that saw the teams split a doubleheader . . . The Cougars took the opening game 9-2, but dropped the second game 8-4 in ten innings.

Houston starter Robert Gasser allowed a run in the second inning as the Bulls took an early 1-0 lead . . . The Cougars offense got on the board in the fourth on an Ian McMillan single that plated two and put Houston in front 2-1 . . . McMillan was 3-for-4 in the contest and is joined by Brad Burckel as the only Cougars with multiple hits in game one . . . After the Bulls tied the game in the top of the fifth, the Cougars quickly re-took the lead 3-2 after a Brad Burckel triple was followed by a Ryan Hernandez single.

Still leading 3-2 in the seventh, the offense scored six runs highlighted by a Will Pendergrass grand slam off the scoreboard in right, his sixth home run of the year, which gave Houston a 9-2 lead.

Robert Gasser completed eight innings and exited having thrown 114 pitches allowing six hits and striking out seven . . . Maddux Miller came in and got the final three outs to secure the victory for Gasser, who improved to 5-3 on the year.

Jaycob Deese got the start in game two and after a scoreless opening inning, his offense started building some support behind him.

Brad Burckel walked with one out in the first, he subsequently stole second and third, and then scored on a wild pitch for an early 1-0 lead . . . In the second, three straight singles to start the frame added two runs to the Cougars tally as Ian McMillan drove home a run and Dylan Post plated one on a sacrifice fly to left and the Cougars led 3-0.

Deese struggled in the third, allowing a three-run home run to tie the game, but he settled down and went seven strong innings, striking out six, and retiring the final ten batters he faced before giving way to Derrick Cherry for the eighth . . . Cherry tossed scoreless eighth and ninth innings and the Houston offense had a chance to walk the game off in the ninth when Tyler Bielamowicz and Steven Rivas both singled to start the inning, but two pop-ups and a strikeout left the runners in place.

The game went to extra innings and as has sometimes been the custom this season, both teams were able to start the inning with a runner on second base . . . The Bulls took advantage of two defensive miscues in the inning to score five runs (all unearned) and take a commanding 8-3 lead into the bottom of the tenth . . . The Cougars were able to score their runner from second but nothing more even though they loaded the bases and had the tying run at the plate, they fell 8-4.

The Cougars are now 14-19 overall and 2-8 in American Athletic competition . . . The Cougars had relatively good offensive balance in both games, where seven of the nine spots got base hits and each spot got on base at least once, one way of the other, aside from the nine spot in game one.

The Cougars and the Bulls will return to action early on Saturday with first pitch at Schroeder Park scheduled for 10am . . . Game one on Sunday will only last seven innings, and a second game will be played 45 minutes after the conclusion of game one. –

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