685 days after their last game within the American Athletic Conference, the Houston Cougars welcomed conference foe Wichita State University to Schroeder Park on Thursday night and walked away with a 5-3 win behind another outstanding mound performance by Robert Gasser.
The Cougars offense got things started in the first when Luke Almendarez reached base on a one-out single . . . That was followed by a Ryan Hernandez single . . . A wild pitch moved both runners up a base before Tyler Bielamowicz plated Almendarez on a grounder to second as the Cougars took a 1-0 lead . . . Worth noting that Brandon Uhse was back in the lineup after leaving Sunday’s game after he was hit by a pitch that caught hi front section as he was squaring to bunt.
In the second, Will Pendergrass led the inning off with a double to left-center . . . Brad Burckel followed with a single that scored Pendergrass . . . Three batters later, Burckel stole second, his tenth stolen base of the season, and Brandon Uhse hit the next pitch into left field scoring Burckel and increasing the Cougar lead to 3-0.
For the second consecutive time through the order, in the fourth inning, Pendergrass and Burckel both led off the inning by getting on base, this time a hit batter and a walk put the two on base . . . Ian McMillan put down a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners up . . . With the runners going on the pitch, Kyle Lovelace executed perfectly on a suicide squeeze as he put a ball in play that stopped moving about ten to twelve feet from home plate and no play was made anywhere as Pendergrass scored to extend the Houston lead 4-0.
Robert Gasser was cruising, he had allowed one hit through four and his second hit in the fifth, and did not allow a hit in his final two full innings of work . . . Houston added a run in the seventh when Tyler Bielamowicz hit a sacrifice fly to left-field to score Brandon Uhse from third and giving the Cougars a 5-0 lead.
Gasser exited after 7 2/3 of scoreless baseball, having only allowed only two hits while striking out twelve . . . Gasser struck out his final batter, and he also struck out the side in his last complete inning, the seventh . . . Derrick Cherry entered the game tasked with getting the final four outs.
The Shockers plated three in the eighth after Gasser’s exit on a hit to center and a throwing error that allowed an extra run to score, followed by a single that squeaked through up the middle and into center field, the Cougars still led 5-3 . . . Cherry pitched a scoreless ninth to end the game and send the Cougars home victorious . . . Gasser picked up the win improving to 4-2 on the year.
The Cougars offense scattered eight hits throughout the game, and Luke Almendarez was the only Cougar with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4.
The Cougars and the Shockers meet again on Friday for a double-header . . . Carter Henry, making his first start since the 2017 season, will start game one . . . Henry is one of only three Houston pitchers who have pitched in American Conference action prior to this weekend . . . Jaycob Deese will start game two, his second start and second consecutive weekend start . . . First pitch is at 2pm at Schroeder Park. –