Cougars Top Jaguars in Midweek Madness

Houston continued its winning ways of late by defeating Southern 16-7 at Schroeder Park on Wednesday night.

With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, Alex Lopez singled to reach base and ended up on third base after an errant throw to first by the pitcher on a pickoff attempt . . . Cameron Nickens (3-for-6) followed with his second two-run home run in the two days to tie the game at two.

Still tied in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Cougars bats came alive . . . Justin Murray led off the frame with a home run to left field to give Houston its first lead of the night . . . One out later, Drew Bianco homered to straight away center field just to the left of the batter’s eye, a two-run shot and the Cougars led 6-2.

RBI singles by Lopez and Anthony Tulimero added to the Houston seven running and Houston led 9-2 going to the fifth inning.

Kyle Ayers made the midweek start for Houston . . . Ayers struggled in the first inning but was throwing hard and stayed in through four innings, striking out nine batters along the way.

A six-run seventh inning padded the Houston lead 16-5.

Despite some mound troubles, Houston closed out the Jaguars by a 16-7 final score, the fifth consecutive win for the Cougars . . . Tommy Egan and Braden Forsyth contributed scoreless frames in the Wednesday victory with Forsyth claiming the win after his solid outing.

Houston has a day off before a weekend series opens at Schroeder Park on Friday . . . The possible weather problems this weekend have altered the Friday first pitch, which is now scheduled for 3pm . . . The Cougars will face UT Arlington on Friday and Sunday, and Northwestern on Saturday night.


Houston Wins at McNeese 9-6, Plays at Home Wednesday

Cameron Nickens homered in the first inning at McNeese on Tuesday

After their three-game sweep in Minnesota, the Cougars returned home late Sunday before traveling to Lake Charles to face McNeese on Tuesday night . . . The Cougars topped the Cowboys 9-6 to make it four victories in a row.

The Cougars got on the board early on Tuesday night and staked starter Cade Citelli to a nice early lead, something Citellie has not been accustomed to in his earlier starts this season.

The second batter in the Houston lineup, Alex Lopez (2-for-3), drew a one-out walk in the top of the first inning . . . Cameron Nickens immediately followed with a home run to left-center field for a 2-0 Houston lead.

Still leading 2-0 in the top of the third inning, Lopez and Nickens hit back-to-back one out singles . . . Catcher Anthony Tulimero (3-for-5) hit a blast off the scoreboard in left-field for a three-run home run to give Citelli a five-run cushion.

In the top of the fifth inning, Justin Murray drove in two runs on a double into the left field corner and Ian McMillan brought him home on a sacrifice fly ball to center field and the Cougars led 8-0.

Citelli was cruising for the most part, striking out eight Cowboys batters over five innings, departing in the top of the sixth inning as he reached 90 pitches in his midweek outing.

The Cowboys got back into the game against the Houston bullpen cutting the Cougars lead to 8-6 late.

Back-to-back one-out singles by Tulimero and Nick Collins in the top of the ninth inning led to a sacrifice fly to right field by McMillan plating Tulimero and the Cougars led 9-6.

Murray took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning and struck out three Cowboys batters to preserve the Houston victory and pick up the save . . . Citelli earned the victory with his excellent start, his first win as a Houston Cougar.

The Cougars (9-11) return home tomorrow to face Southern at Schroeder Park for their final midweek game this week . . . Malachi Lott, who left Tuesday’s game after his at-bat in the first inning due to a possible illness, is likely to start if his health is right . . . First pitch Tuesday will take place at 6:30pm.

Cougars Win 5-2, Sweep Minnesota

Alex Lopez is greeted by his teammates after homering Sunday in the 8th inning

Houston completed its first sweep of the 2023 season in Minneapolis on Sunday by topping Minnesota 5-2 at US Bank Stadium.

Houston trailed 1-0 going into the top of the third inning . . . With two outs in the frame, Drew Bianco singled to reach base . . . Malachi Lott (4-for-4) followed with a single that moved Bianco over to third base . . . A double-steal attempt allowed Lott to reach second, a throw by the second baseman to home plate was wild and allowed Bianco to score the tying run while Lott moved up to third base on the error.

Zach Arnold walked and stole second base before Alex Lopez (2-for-4) lined a single up the middle to score both Lott and Arnold to give the Cougars a 3-1 advantage.

Josh Ekness made his second start on the mound in less than a week, but he was practically just as effective as in the other two outings . . . Ekness departed Sunday’s game with two outs in the bottom of the third inning just shy of 40 pitches and still leading 3-1.

After the game, Head Coach Todd Whitting explained the early departure of Ekness. “Today was a good prep day for Ekness with regard to his routine to start next weekend,” Whitting said. “He was on a very low pitch count as today was more about mindset and preparation.”

With Houston leading 3-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Lott tripled to lead off the frame, it was Lott’s fourth hit of the game batting in the leadoff spot . . . Arnold plated Lott on a sacrifice fly hit to center field . . . Lopez followed with a solo home run over the tall right field wall in US Bank Stadium’s makeshift baseball setup and the Cougars took a 5-2 lead needing just six more outs.

A combination of pitchers followed Ekness after he left the game including Tommy Egan, Dan Wright, Brendan O’Donnell, Nick Ayers, and Justin Murray . . . Murray closed out the Gophers in the bottom of the ninth inning by striking out all three batters he faced.

Houston pitching allowed six runs over the entire three-game series in Minneapolis, two runs in each game.

Coach Whitting heaped praise on the entire team after the game, “Proud of the team for grinding out a road sweep.” And on Lott’s day at the plate Whitting added, “Lott showed what he is capable of every day. He has the ability to beat you with his bat and his speed.”

The Cougars are traveling home after Sunday’s game . . . Houston will then turn around and travel to Lake Charles, Louisiana on Tuesday to face McNeese at 6pm . . . The Cougars will then return home to host Southern on Wednesday night at Schroeder Park.

Houston Rallies in Final Frames to Take Series

Houston rallied for two runs in the ninth inning and two more in the tenth inning to earn a 4-2 victory in ten innings on Saturday afternoon at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Right-hander Paul Schmitz made his second consecutive Saturday start for Houston and was really sharp despite two solo home runs, the only runs he allowed . . . Schmitz tossed 6 2/3 innings, the second day in a row the Cougars starter has pitched until they had two outs in the seventh inning . . . Schmitz was working fast and was very efficient on the mound, only yielding the two solo home runs and striking out seven and he also retired eleven straight batters between the second and the fifth innings.

Houston was hitless in the game until a two-out single by Alex Lopez in the top of the sixth inning, but first base was as far as Lopez would get.

Minnesota starter George Klassen pitched 7 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit baseball before being relieved on the mound having baffled Houston hitters all afternoon.

With one out in the top of the ninth inning, Zach Arnold singled to begin a rally, also extending his games-reached streak to 17 games . . . Justin Murray then pinch-hit for Alex Lopez and hit a game-tying two-run home run over the left field wall.

Still tied in the tenth inning, Ian McMillan hit a two-out double down the left field line . . . Drew Bianco drove McMillan home with a double of his own, and that was followed by a Cameron Nickens double to give the Cougars a 4-2 lead.

Brendan O’Donnell, Cade Citelli, and Owen Woodward all pitched in relief over the last 3 1/3 innings and kept Minnesota from starting anything resembling a rally with Woodward recording the final four outs of the game to secure the series win.

Houston and Minnesota conclude their weekend series in Minneapolis on Sunday at noon . . . Expect to see left-hander Malachi Lott on the mound to start the game as the Cougars go for their first sweep of 2023.

Houston Opens Minnesota Series with 3-2 Win

Houston has traveled north to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers this weekend in Minneapolis where the wind chills are not likely to rise above freezing before the Cougars leave town on Sunday . . . The freezing weather partially accounts for why only 247 people attended Friday night’s 3-2 Houston victory.

The two teams are playing this weekend in the unusual baseball setup inside US Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Vikings.

Right-hander Maddux Miller made his first career start on Friday night and was extremely effective, taking the game into the seventh inning while keeping the Golden Gophers off the scoreboard.

With the game still scoreless, Justin Murray (2-for-3) led off the top of the fifth inning with a triple to deep left-center field . . . After a walk to Brandon Burckel and then a steal of second base, Ian McMillan grounded out to shortstop to bring Murray across the plate . . . Drew Bianco then put down a perfect bunt on a squeeze play to score Burckel and give the Cougars a 2-0 advantage.

Still leading 2-0 in the top of the seventh, Brandon Uhse (2-for-4) led off the inning with a single and then stole second base . . . Murray then singled up the middle to plate Uhse and extend the Houston lead.

Miller departed with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning leaving two runners on base as he was right at 100 pitches, easily his longest outing in a Cougars uniform . . . Braden Forsyth took the mound to get the final out and end the seventh inning threat.

Back-to-back solo home runs in the bottom of the eighth inning got Minnesota to within a run . . . But Forsyth stayed in and recorded the six outs he needed to close out the 3-2 road victory. . . Miller improved to 2-0 with the win and Forsyth earned his first save as a Cougar.

Houston and Minnesota resume the weekend series on Saturday . . . Paul Schmitz will be on the mound for his second straight Saturday start . . . First pitch at US Bank Stadium is scheduled for 2pm.

Aggies Top Houston to End Homestand

John Ekness made his first start as a Houston Cougar Tuesday night against Texas A&M

Houston dropped its midweek game to Texas A&M 5-1 on Tuesday night at Schroeder Park to close out a five-game homestand.

John Ekness made his first start of the season and was outstanding in the loss, going 6 2/3 innings allowing just two earned runs on three hits . . . It was the longest outing of the season for Ekness who mixed sharpness with power and great off-speed pitches.

The lone Houston run came in the fifth inning when Ian McMillan doubled to lead off the inning . . . Brandon Uhse followed by driving in McMillan on a single to center field to cut the Aggies lead in half 2-1.

A three-run ninth inning for Texas A&M added to their 5-1 win margin as Houston used three pitchers to get through the inning.

Houston now hits the road for the next four games, they will open a three-game series in Minneapolis with Minnesota on Friday night at 6pm . . . At the conclusion of that trip to the north, the Cougars will play a midweek contest at McNeese next Tuesday before returning to Schroeder Park next Wednesday to host Southern.

Cougars Edged 7-6 as Sooners Sweep

Malachi Lott started Sunday’s finale against Oklahoma

A closer contest on Sunday yielded a familiar result from the weekend as Oklahoma swept Houston with a 7-6 victory at Schroeder Park.

Malachi Lott got the Sunday start for the second straight week and worked 3 1/3 innings where he allowed just one run before being lifted for right-hander Josh Ekness.

Houston tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when a Zach Arnold (4-for-5) lead-off single was followed by a slicing double to left field by Alex Lopez . . . One out later, Cameron Nickens scored Arnold from third base on a deep sacrifice fly ball to center field.

The Cougars took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Ian McMillan went the opposite way and drove a single into right field to plate Brandon Burckel from second base.

Oklahoma added three runs in the top of the sixth inning on double and a single and with the help of three walks, a batter hit by a pitch, and a throwing error at first base to take a 4-2 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, two singles and a catcher’s interference loaded the bases for Houston before Brandon Uhse singled on the infield to score a run . . . One out and one walk later, Anthony Tulimero hit a bases loaded double to right field to plate two runs but the potential tying run was thrown out at the plate on a relay and the Cougars went to the ninth inning trailing 7-6.

A last gasp effort in the ninth inning fell short with Burckel on second base as the potential tying run as Oklahoma completed the sweep.

Houston is off on Monday and will be back on the field at home on Tuesday when they welcome Texas A&M to town for a midweek matchup . . . First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm.

Houston Drops Oklahoma Series, Looks to Avoid Sweep Sunday

Paul Schmitz made his first start of the season for Houston Saturday night

After a brutal twelve-run defeat on Friday, Houston played a more complete game on Saturday night against Oklahoma but still came up short, losing 8-3.

The Cougars offense came out making solid contact with the baseball, but the team ran itself out of the inning by getting one runner thrown out at the plate and another at third base, on two different plays . . . Houston still led 1-0 after the first inning, but the lead could have been greater if not for running into two outs.

Paul Schmitz made his first start since coming to Houston, though he had made five appearances so far this season and despite a final line that does not look favorable, the outing by Schmitz was quite good and he deserves another chance to start.

A passed ball and a wild pitch in the eighth inning gave the Cougars their second and third runs of the game and made the 8-3 final seem closer than the game actually was.

Houston and Oklahoma close out the weekend series on Sunday afternoon at 1pm . . . Malachi Lott will make his second straight Sunday start on the mound.

Cougars Fall Flat in Oklahoma Opener

Houston opened a weekend series with Oklahoma on Friday night at Schroeder Park

A forgettable Friday night found the Cougars on the wrong end of a 13-1 final score against the Oklahoma Sooners at Schroeder Park.

Cade Citelli got the Friday night start for the fourth consecutive week and was decent until he was replaced on the mound in the fourth inning . . . Citelli faced first inning trouble with the bases loaded and walked in the only run of the inning, and escaped without further damage.

Oklahoma right-hander Kale Davis was too much for Houston hitters over his six innings pitched . . . Zach Arnold accounted for the only Cougars run against Davis on Friday night, hitting a line drive over the left-field wall to tie the game at one in the bottom of the third inning.

Cameron Nickens was 2-for-2 in the game, the only Houston hitter with multiple hits accounting for two of the five total hits for the Cougars.

The Cougars and the Sooners continue their series Saturday evening at 6:30pm at Schroeder Park . . . Paul Schmitz is scheduled to get the start on the mound for Houston, his first start since joining the Cougars.

Cougars Shut Out 1-0, Drop Road Series

Malachi Lott pitched five innings on Sunday afternoon, allowing the games only run . . . The effort was Lott’s longest outing of the season and gave Houston a boost of sorts, as well as options, as the coaching staff tried to adjust the pitching rotation after the loss of Kyle LaCalameto for the rest of the season.

The Cougars return home for a Tuesday midweek with Prairie View A&M and then playing host to the Oklahoma Sooners next weekend . . . First pitch on Tuesday at Schroeder Park is scheduled for 6:30pm.