Three Houston Cougars from the 2022 squad heard their names called during the final day of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday afternoon, along with one former Cougar and two Houston commits.
Ben Sears was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 14th Round.
Logan Clayton, who had transferred away from Houston after the season ended, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 17th Round.
Jaycob Deese was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th Round.
Samuel (Sammy) Hernandez, a catcher at Lakeland High School in Florida, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 14th Round.
Kevin Kilpatrick, a college transfer who was committed to Houston, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 17th Round.
Jonathan Thomas, a former Cougar who played for Texas Southern in 2022, was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 19th Round.
Players, whether drafted or undrafted, have until August 1st to sign a contract with the team that drafted them or as a free agent if they were not drafted.
Rolan Walton has passed away. He was the last living member of the Cougars first baseball team of 1947. When he returned later to coach at UH, he was twice named SWC Coach of the Year (1975, 1982) as he compiled a 378–235–5 record over 12 seasons. Walton was inducted into the Houston Athletics Hall of Honor in 2006.
Coach Walton was incredibly gracious with his time, we visited at his home and recorded a podcast in 2020, which will be released at a later time, but he was proud of his time(s) as a Houston Cougar and was a great storyteller. His red UH cap was always by his front door.
The Houston Cougars saw their season come to end on Sunday afternoon in Clearwater as they fell 6-1 to East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference Championship final.
While East Carolina was able to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the Cougars found no such luck with the Pirates pitching staff.
Freshman Cameron Nickens was 3-for-3 on Sunday afternoon and drove in the only Cougars run on a single in the top of the seventh inning . . . Nickens accounted for half of the Cougars six base hits in the contest.
Maddux Miller pitched 2 2/3 innings out of the bullpen at a critical point in the game and he was outstanding, striking out five Pirates batters . . . Ben Sears followed Miller and was equally great, also over 2 2/3 innings where he did not allow a hit and struck out three batters.
Where Houston saw its season end on the second day of the AAC Championship in each of their last two appearances, the Cougars made it to the final game in 2022 and the very young Cougars team experienced what it takes to play big time, competitive baseball.
Ryan Hernandez played his final game as a Houston Cougar on Sunday, and just as he has been the epitome of class and hard work during his three years with the program, he was just as classy and prideful in his postgame comments.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Hernandez said. “I love being a Houston Cougar. When I first committed here, I committed as soon as I got the opportunity to commit here.”
Head coach Todd Whitting was still hopeful and positive about both the season and the future after the loss Sunday.
“This is still one of my favorite teams I’ve ever had,” Whitting said. “Coming off a tough year last year, just the unbelievable commitments to the program, to the University of Houston, and to what we were trying to do.”
“We got a couple of holes to fill going in to next year, I feel good about it. We start three freshmen every day, we got a ton of guys coming back. The future is bright at the University of Houston,” Whitting said.
Reflecting on some of the great times during his career at Houston, Hernandez said, “I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve had a great time here and I’m really appreciative of that.”
Hernandez was selected to the All-Tournament Team after Sunday’s game, along with teammates Jose Torrealba, Santiago Garcia, and Anthony Tulimero.
The Cougars finish the season 37-24. The 2022 offseason begins now.
Houston had two chances to advance to the American Athletic Conference Championship final on Sunday and they capitalized on the second one with a 9-6 victory over UCF on Saturday night in Clearwater.
In the opening frame of game one, Santiago Garcia singled into right-center, scoring Alex Lopez from second base and the Cougars led 1-0.
Brandon Burckel hit a one-out double off of the wall in left field in the top of the fourth inning, forcing the Knights to go to the bullpen . . . One out later, Lopez hit the first pitch of his at-bat over the wall in right-center field and the Cougars lead was increased to 3-0.
The Knights rallied and scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead.
Ian McMillan tied the game in the top of the fifth inning with a two-out solo home run to right field . . . With the Cougars trailing 7-4 in the top of the seventh inning, McMillan hit his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left field to get the Cougars to within a run.
Garcia led off the top of the ninth inning with a single into right field . . . Ryan Hernandez sent the next pitch over the wall in left field to tie the game at eight.
The Knights had an answer in the bottom of the tenth inning as they manufactured a run to walk-off as 9-8 winners, forcing a second game of the day to settle matters.
Houston jumped out to another early lead, this time with a three-spot in the opening frame . . . But the Knights answered right back with three runs in their half of the first inning.
Brandon Uhse stole second in the fifth inning and Tulimero drove him home on a two-out single to right-center field as Houston regained the lead 4-3.
After tying the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, UCF plated two runs in the sixth inning to take a 6-4 lead.
Houston tied the game in the top of the eighth inning when a one-out single by McMillian into left-center scored two.
Still tied in the top of the ninth, Tulimero hit a two-out three-run home run over the left field wall to give the Cougars a 9-6 lead going to the bottom of the ninth.
Jose Torrealba returned to the mound for the second time in the day to close out the victory that would send the Cougars to the Sunday championship game, and he retired all three batters he faced in the ninth after the hard luck loss in the first game walk-off loss.
Houston used seven pitchers in game two . . . Maddux Miller, Jackson Dannelley, Logan Clayton, and Torrealba all pitched a scoreless inning or more . . . Cameron Prayer went three innings at a crucial point and really helped stabilize things after a rough opening frame.
“You know, obviously any win is momentum,” Tulimero said after the game. “But we have a saying on this team, ‘if you sleep on the win, you’ll wake up to a loss.’ We’re gonna get in the clubhouse, celebrate a bit, flush it, come back tomorrow looking to win the championship.”
Houston will face East Carolina on Sunday morning, at 11am CT . . . A win on Sunday means a trip to a Regional next weekend, while a loss means the end of the season.
Houston kept their season going by defeating Memphis 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Clearwater on Thursday night in the American Athletic Conference Championship.
Brandon Uhse (4-for-5) hit the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning over the wall in deep left-center . . . Alex Lopez (4-for-6) doubled down the left field line in front of Anthony Tulimero who hit a monster home run to left-center and the Cougars led 3-0 before an out had been recorded in the inning.
The Cougars added a run in the second inning when Lopez, attempting to steal second base, was caught in a rundown allowing Uhse to score from third base.
After the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning, Uhse and Lopez led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and a double, respectively . . . Tulimero then delivered a double into left-center field to push the Cougars lead back up to four runs, 6-2.
A four-run top of the sixth inning tied the game at six as the Cougars used three different pitchers to get through the frame . . . Memphis then took a 7-6 lead in the top of the sixth inning.
The Cougars tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when a throwing error at third base allowed Brandon Burckel to score when the ball bounced into the Houston dugout.
Still tied at seven in the bottom of the ninth inning, Burckel led off with a single into center field and then he stole second base on a pitch that was up-and-in and delayed the Tiger catcher from making a throw to second base . . . Uhse was intentionally walked before a Lopez sacrifice fly to right field moved Burkcel to third base . . . Tulimero was the second intentional walk of the inning, which loaded the bases . . . Santiago Garcia laced a one-out single down the third base line to drive in Burckel from third base for the winning run as the Cougars walked it off 8-7.
The Cougars used six pitchers in the victory. Logan Clayton, Cameron Prayer, and Jose Torrealba all pitched scoreless relief . . . Houston out-hit Memphis nineteen to twelve in the game, and eight different Cougars had base hits . . . Houston continues to play solid defensively and did not commit an error on Thursday, while Memphis committed two errors.
“In that moment, it’s just going back to being a little kid,” Garcia said after the game. “Getting in situations like that, it’s fun. It’s really just taking a deep breath, enjoying the moment, trying to put a good swing on a ball, and whatever happens, happens.”
Head coach Todd Whitting has continued to reiterate that there are no roles right now, he and his staff are simply choosing players who they think can get the job done in certain situations, which is another way of saying it’s all hands on deck right now.
The Cougars now have a day off on Friday and will play their next game on early Saturday afternoon when they will face the winner of a late Friday afternoon matchup between Memphis and UCF . . . If Houston stumbles at any point, they know right now they have the luxury of needing to be defeated twice to be eliminated.
Houston fought until the end on Saturday afternoon, but fell 3-2 in ten innings to East Carolina to close out the regular season schedule ahead of the conference tournament next week.
After a double play cleared the bases in the top of the second inning, Santiago Garcia reached base with a single into center field . . . Malachi Lott then bounced a ball high and over the outstretched first baseman for a double, moving Garcia to third base . . . Samuel Benjamin followed with a double to right-center field plating both runners and Houston led 2-0 after three straight two-out hits.
The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the eighth when back-to-back doubles by the Pirates tied the game.
Still tied in the bottom of the tenth inning, the Pirates took advantage of a one-out double when an infield single allowed the winning run to round third base and score safely at home for the 3-2 win.
Neither team committed an error in the contest, as both finish the season ranked high in defensive percentage . . . The Pirates only out-hit the Cougars by one, nine to eight.
Houston will stay in Greenville tonight and then will travel to Clearwater, Florida on Sunday . . . The Cougars do not yet know their first opponent in the conference tournament, but they do know they will play the final game of the day on Tuesday which will sure last late into the evening.
Houston lost 5-3 to East Carolina on Saturday night, and while the Cougars now know their place in next week’s American Athletic Conference tournament in Clearwater, they do not know who their first opponent will be once they get there.
The Pirates plated a pair of runs in each of the first two innings on Saturday and held a 4-0 lead through four innings.
Anthony Tulimero (2-for-4) led off the top of the fifth inning with a single that squeezed between the shortstop and third baseman and rolled into left field . . . One out later, Ryan Hernandez hit his twelfth home run of the season over the wall in right-center field to cut the East Carolina lead in half, 4-2.
Zach Arnold (2-for-4) added a one-out RBI single in the top of the sixth inning, driving in Samuel Tormos who had reached on a throwing error, and Houston only trailed 4-3.
The Cougars got no closer than that, with the Pirates adding a run in the eighth inning and taking a 5-3 lead, which would be the final score . . . The Cougars got in some work for six pitchers in the game, in the next-to-last preparation before play begins in Clearwater on Tuesday . . . The Houston offense only collected five hits on Saturday, by just three players.
A loss by UCF earlier on Saturday opened up an opportunity for the Cougars to make things more interesting if they could win their final two games, but with the loss to East Carolina, Houston clinched the third spot in the standings as they wait to find out who they will face in their first game in Clearwater, though it will be a contest between either Memphis or Wichita State in the late game on Tuesday night.
Houston and East Carolina close out the regular season on Saturday afternoon with a 12 noon start time . . . Both teams will head to Clearwater after the series to prepare for the conference tournament which begins on Tuesday morning . . . The Cougars have not named a Saturday starter at this point.
The Houston Cougars could not stop their current slide as they fell to East Carolina 8-4 in Greenville, North Carolina on Thursday night.
Houston opened its final weekend of the regular season with the conference opponent a day earlier than is typical due to the fact that the American Athletic Conference tournament begins in Clearwater, Florida on Tuesday morning.
Ian McMillan led off the top of the third inning with a single just over a stretched out second baseman into shallow right-center . . . Malachi Lott added an infield single on a high bouncer beyond the reach of the Pirates first baseman and by the time a throw was ready to be made, no one was at first base to receive the throw as Lott sped his way down the line . . . Brandon Burckel put down a textbook sacrifice bunt that drew in the third baseman, who was just able to get Burckel at first . . . Brandon Uhse then delivered a one out single into left-center to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead.
Zach Arnold then drove a 2-2 pitch off a light pole beyond the left field wall for a two-run home run and a 4-1 lead . . . The home run forced the Pirates to their bullpen in the top of the third with just one out.
That was the end of the scoring for the Cougars on this night as the Pirates would tag Houston pitching for seven runs over the final two-thirds of the game to eventually take the 8-4 victory.
UCF, which started the night a game ahead of Houston in conference play, also lost on Thursday night, so the Cougars could possibly get the two-seed, but are guaranteed no worse than the three-seed.
The Cougars (34-20, 13-9 AAC) and the Pirates face each other again on Friday in Greenville . . . Houston has not announced a starting pitcher as of yet . . . Game time is scheduled for 5:30pm.
The Houston Cougars lost a late lead on their way to dropping Saturday night’s middle game to UCF, 6-5.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, Zach Arnold reached base with one out on an error at shortstop . . . Alex Lopez kept things going by taking a walk . . . Anthony Tulimero singled to right field on a low liner that the right fielder lost in the sun . . . Cameron Nickens then singled up the middle to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead going to the second inning.
Houston starter Kyle LaCalameto exited the game after the fourth inning, turning the game over to the bullpen . . The Knights took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning on a two-run home run to right-center.
Malachi Lott led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single and then he stole second base . . . A single to left field by Brandon Uhse drove in Lott from second base to tie the game . . . Arnold singled to keep the inning going . . . Lopez grounded out to shortstop behind second base, but the go-ahead run in Uhse crossed the plate . . . Nickens then delivered a two-out RBI single into shallow right-center field and the Cougars led 5-3 after the three run frame.
Cameron Prayer recorded the final two outs in the top of the fifth inning, a nice outing for the lefty.
Ben Sears came into the game in the eighth inning and retired the side in order . . . But UCF got two runs in the top of the ninth to take a 6-5 lead . . . The Cougars went down in order in the bottom of the ninth and suffered the late one-run loss.
The Cougars walked batters would eventually score in the Saturday contest . . . Houston remains a game ahead of the Knights to maintain the second spot by one game heading into Sunday’s action.
Houston and UCF conclude their weekend series with a series win on the line Sunday at Schroeder Park . . . Pre-game festivities include Senior Day recognition for three Cougars players . . . Houston has not announced a starting pitcher for the game, but expect to see Nathan Medrano on the hill . . . First pitch is scheduled for 12 noon.
The Houston Cougars defeated UCF 9-6 on Friday night at Schroeder Park, and they had to erase an early four run deficit to do it.
Houston faced an uncharacteristic 4-0 first inning deficit before they even came to bat on Friday night, but as often has been the case with the 2022 Cougars, they played nine innings of baseball and found a way to win.
Cameron Nickens led off the bottom of the second inning with a ground-rule double into right field . . . Ryan Hernandez (2-for-2) followed with a home run to center field that split the Texas and United States flags beyond the wall and the deficit was cut in half, 4-2.
Anthony Tulimero led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and Nickens followed with a single, his second hit of the ballgame . . . Hernandez followed with his second home run of the game, a shot to left-center field, and Houston led 5-4 . . . For Hernandez the two homers were his fourth and fifth in the last five games, and his tenth and eleventh of the season.
One out later Malachi Lott tripled to center field . . . Brandon Uhse lined a two-out single to left field and the Houston lead increased to 6-4 going to the fifth inning.
Logan Clayton took the mound in the fifth inning with two runners on base and no outs . . . One run would score, but a sacrifice fly to center field turned wild on a throw that got past Zach Arnold at third base as the base runner was trying to tag up from first base to third base . . . Clayton was backing up third base and dove on the loose ball in front of the Cougars dugout, as the runner made for home, Clayton got up and fired a dart to Tulimero at home plate to catch the runner and end the frame with Houston leading 6-5.
Maddux Miller entered the game in the seventh inning with two down and got a swinging strike out to end the frame.
Ben Sears took the mound for the eighth inning protecting a one-run lead and retired the Knights in order, striking out two.
Leading by a run in the bottom of the eighth, Hernandez was walked for his second straight plate appearance, with one out . . . Ian McMillan doubled into the left field corner to put runners on second and third with one out . . . Santiago Garcia, pinch-hitting for Lott, swung at the first pitch he saw and unloaded on the baseball deep to left-center field for a three-run home run and a 9-5 Houston lead.
Houston benefited from the insurance runs because a two-out solo home run for UCF in the ninth inning made it 9-6, before Sears finished off the Knights and earned his twelfth save of the season . . . Clayton improved his record to 6-3.
With East Carolina winning on Friday night, the Pirates hold a two game edge over the Cougars, who continue to occupy the second spot in the standings, now two games ahead of UCF.
The Cougars (34-16) and the Knights continue the series on Saturday when they play again at Schroeder Park, first pitch will be at 6:30pm . . . Kyle LaCalameto will be on the mound for Houston.