Regular Season Ends with Loss, Conference Tourney Begins Tuesday Night

Jose Torrealba threw two innings of scoreless relief Saturday at East Carolina

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 Loses to East Carolina, Clinches Third Spot in AAC

Houston faced East Carolina in Greenville, NC on Saturday night

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.

Houston Loses Opener in Greenville, Conference Seed Still Unknown

Brandon Uhse takes a lead off first base against East Carolina on Thursday

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.

Cougars Lose Late, Retain Second Spot in American

Kyle LaCalameto got the start against UCF on Friday at Schroeder Park

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.

Houston Takes Series in Wichita, Stands Alone in Second in American

Houston closed out their weekend series at Wichita State on Sunday

Houston took their second straight conference road series with an 11-8 win over Wichita State in Wichita on Sunday.

With two outs in the top of the first inning, Alez Lopez extended the inning when he singled to reach base . . . Anthony Tulimero then homered to left field to give the Cougars an early 2-0 lead.

Over the first two innings, the Shockers scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead into the third inning.

Brandon Burckel walked and Brandon Uhse singled to set the table in the top of the third inning for Houston . . . Lopez singled home a run before Tulimero was hit by a pitch to load the bases . . . Cameron Nickens and Ryan Hernandez each singled home a run . . . Ian McMillan doubled to the wall in left field to drive in another run.

A fielder’s choice on a batted ball by Santiago Garcia resulted in a rundown between third base and home plate, as Garcia made for second base, the throw to attempt to get him out was well wide of the base and a sixth and final run scored in the frame and Houston led 8-3.

Houston starter Nathan Medrano took the game into the third inning and gave way to Logan Clayton with two outs in the inning.

Still leading 8-7 in the sixth inning, a lead off walk to Hernandez got the inning started  . . . Two walks and a fielder’s choice put runners on base for Uhse who delivered a two RBI single . . . Arnold drove in the third run of the inning on a ground out to third base and Houston took an 11-7 lead.

Ben Sears entered the game in the fifth inning with two outs in relief of Clayton and pitched the final 4 1/3 innings of the game, only surrendering a run on a solo home run with two outs in the ninth inning . . . Sears improved to 7-2 on the year with the win.

In a reversal of what happened in 2021, where the Shockers took seven of eight against the Cougars, Houston won four of six contests this year . . . The Cougars are now alone in second place in the American Athletic Conference, behind only East Carolina, with two big weekend series remaining . . . The Cougars will face UCF at Schroeder Park next weekend, they lead the Knights by one game, and then Houston closes out the regular season the following weekend in Greenville against East Carolina.

The Cougars return home on Sunday evening and will face Sam Houston State on Tuesday at Constellation Field in Sugar Land in the third and final game of the 2022 Don Sanders Cup, which Houston won in April after taking the first two games of the series . . . First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:30pm in Sugar Land.

Houston Loses Middle Game at Wichita State

Houston faced Wichita State in Wichita on Saturday

Wichita State evened the weekend series with Houston on Saturday afternoon with a runaway 12-4 win in Wichita.

Brandon Burckel reached second base on a one out double in the top of the third inning . . . Zach Arnold delivered a two-out RBI single to give Houston the early lead . . . After Alex Lopez singled to extend the innings, Anthony Tulimero delivered a two-out RBI single of his own and the Cougars led 2-0.

After the Shockers tied the game in the third, Ryan Hernandez led off the fourth inning with a home run high off the scoreboard in left field and Houston re-took the lead by a run . . . The home run was the eighth of the season for Hernandez, and his second in as many days.

After two quick outs, Burckel worked a walk and then stole second base . . . Brandon Uhse doubled to score Burckel from second base and Houston led 4-2 . . . A walk to Arnold spelled the end of the day for Wichita State starter Cameron Bye as the Shockers went to the bullpen.

However, the rest of the ballgame was all Shockers as Wichita State scored ten unanswered runs to take a 12-4 lead which stood up as the final score.

The Cougars could only reach the Shockers pitching staff for three base hits after the fourth inning, all singles, and they went down in order twice in the final five frames.

Maddux Miller tossed 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball and Bryson Walker threw one scoreless inning, the only two pitchers of the six Houston used in the contest who did not allow the Shockers to score.

Houston and Wichita State will play the deciding game of the weekend series on Sunday morning . . . First pitch is scheduled for 11am, expect to see Nathan Medrano on the mound for the Cougars.

Cougars Erase Early Deficit, Win at Wichita State 7-4

Jaycob Deese faces Wichita State in the seventh inning on Friday

Houston opened up their weekend series in Wichita, Kansas on Friday with a 7-4 win over the Wichita State Shockers and finally exacted some revenge on an recent foe.

The Cougars of 2021 and 2022 had been unable to figure out Wichita State starter Jace Kaminska in three games last season and one game earlier this season . . . Over that stretch, Kaminska was 4-0 and had allowed just two runs in 32 1/3 innings, which includes a contest in the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Clearwater, Florida last May.

Trailing 3-0 in the top of the third inning, Brandon Burkel led off the frame with a single and then stole second base . . . Alex Lopez hit a two-out double into right-center to plate Burckel and cut the deficit to 3-1.

Houston starter Jaycob Deese faced the minimum in the third inning, getting a pickoff at first on a runner who had singled with two outs . . . Deese then faced just three batters in both the fourth and fifth innings, requiring just nine pitches in the fifth.

Lopez singled to lead off the sixth inning with the Cougars still trailing 3-1 . . . Anthony Tulimero followed with a walk, and Cameron Nickens was hit in the helmet by a pitch to load the bases with no outs . . . Ian McMillian batted a ball to deep short and before the ball could break free and run into left field, the Shockers shortstop stopped the ball on a dive, but he had no play as a run crossed the plate, the bases remained loaded and the Cougars trailed by a run.

Malachi Lott lined a ball down the right field line all the way to the wall to clear the bases and the Cougars took a 5-3 lead on the double by Lott.

Kaminska left the game after six innings pitched, having allowed five runs.

Ahead 5-4 in the top of the eighth inning, Tulimero led off the inning with a fly ball to center that looked like a sure out, but it was dropped by the center-fielder and Tulimero stopped at second base . . . One out later, Ryan Hernandez hit his seventh home run of the year over the wall in deep left-center field to push the Houston lead to 7-4.

Deese gave way to Ben Sears to start the bottom of the eighth inning with the three run lead . . . Deese did not allow a walk in his seven innings, and in uncharacteristic fashion, only struck out one batter.

Sears handled the final two innings, and while he did not look his sharpest (he walked two and hit a batter), it was nice to see the right-hander work through some adversity and record the six records he was tasked with getting . . . Deese improved to 5-2 on the year with the win and Sears picked up his tenth save.

Head coach Todd Whitting commented on his team coming back from a 3-0 deficit to take the road victory on Friday night, but also of the outstanding defense played behind his pitchers throughout the game. 

“Proud of our offensive unit tonight,” Whitting said after the game. “We had a great plan against one of the top pitchers in our league. We did a tremendous job of grinding out at bats and playing great defense.”

The Cougars and the Shockers are back in action on Saturday afternoon in Wichita . . . Kyle LaCalameto will be on the mound for the Cougars . . . The scheduled first pitch is at 2pm.

Houston Takes Silver Glove Series with 8-2 Win

Brandon Burckel bats in the second inning against Rice on Wednesday

Houston captured the Silver Glove Series against Rice with a 6-2 victory over the Owls at Schroeder Park on Tuesday night.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning, Ryan Hernandez (3-for-4) and Ian McMillan (3-for-3) hit back-to-back singles to reach base . . . Brandon Burckel (2-for-3) delivered a two-out single into left to score Hernandez and tie the game.

Still tied in the bottom of the third, Anthony Tulimero grounded to third base for what should have been the final out of the inning, but the throw was low and the first baseman could not make a clean catch, so Tulimero reached on the error . . . Cameron Nickens with a single to center and Tulimero reached third base to put runners on the corners . . . Hernandez followed with a double into left field that drove in both runners to give the Cougars a 3-1 lead.

Ian McMillan then hit a home run to left field, his seventh of the season, and Houston led 5-1 going to the fourth inning.

Colby Casey replaced Houston starter Logan Clayton in the sixth inning . . . Casey was followed by Cameron Prayer and Maddux Miller over the next two innings.

Houston added a run in the sixth inning after Burckel led off the frame with a double and moved to third base on a wild pitch . . . One out later, Zach Arnold grounded out to shortstop and scored Burckel.

McMillan doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth, his third hit of the night . . . The straight walks followed and a single to right by Arnold scored two more runs and the Cougars led 8-2.

Jose Torrealba pitched a scoreless ninth inning, retiring all three batters he faced, to close out the win which gave the Cougars the Silver Glove Series for the first time since 2018 . . . Clayton improved to 3-3 this year with the win. 

Houston (30-15) packs up and hits the road for another weekend road trip . . . The Cougars will resume conference action on Friday at Wichita State against the Shockers . . . First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6pm.

Houston Earns Road Sweep of South Florida with 9-2 Win

Ian McMillan bats in the second inning Sunday in Tampa

Houston opened May by completing a weekend sweep of conference foe South Florida 9-2 in Tampa on Sunday.  

The Cougars opened the game by getting the first three batters on base, but they only scratched across one run on a sacrifice fly to center by Anthony Tulimero that allowed Brandon Uhse to tag from third base for the early Houston lead.

Ian McMillan led off the second inning with a monster home run to left field and the Cougars led 2-0.

After the Bulls tied the game in the second, Houston responded when McMillan (2-for-3) homered again with two runners on base and the Cougars took a 5-2 lead.

Zach Arnold hit his team-leading ninth home run with one out in the sixth inning and that was followed by back-to-back doubles by Alex Lopez and Tulimero (2-for-3) . . . The RBI by Tulimero made it 7-2, it was his second hit of the ballgame, which extended his reached-base streak to fifteen games, which is the second time this season Tulimero has done that.

Nathan Medrano got the Sunday start for the Cougars and the only blemish was the two runs allowed in the second inning, otherwise Medrano kept the Bulls from getting back into the game once the Cougars re-took the lead . . . Jackson Dannelley took the mound in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Medrano.

Houston added two runs in the ninth after back-to-back walks to begin the inning . . . Brandon Burckel hit a sacrifice fly ball to right field for a RBI . . . Arnold then hit a two out single to push the Cougars advantage to 9-2 going to bottom of the ninth.

Ben Sears pitched the ninth and after a lead off double, he retired the next three batters, putting the finishing touch on the 9-2 win and the weekend sweep.

Medrano’s record improved to 6-3 with the victory.

Houston outscored South Florida 28-9 over the weekend, and 22-4 over the final two games.

The Cougars head back to Houston today and will be off for a couple of days before they play host to Rice on Wednesday night at Schroeder Park . . . Houston hits the road for a series at Wichita State next weekend, so Wednesday is one of the few chances to see the Houston nine while they remain hot . . . First pitch on Wednesday is scheduled for 6:30pm.

Houston Dominates USF 13-2

Zach Arnold is greeted by teammates after his second inning home run on Saturday

The Cougars utilized a seven run fourth inning to blow out South Florida 13-2 in Tampa on Saturday as Houston won for the second day in a row.

Scoreless in the top of the third inning, Brandon Uhse singled through the left side of the infield to reach base with two outs . . . Zach Arnold (4-for-5) followed with a home run to left field on a full-count pitch and Houston led 2-0 on Arnold’s eighth home run of the season.

A lead off walk to Ryan Hernandez was the beginning of a big fourth inning for the Cougars . . . Ian McMillan followed with a single to right field . . . After McMillan stole second base, Malachi Lott singled through the right side to drive in a run . . . Lott stole second base and was there when Brandon Burckel singled to left field two drive in two more runs and the Cougars led 5-0.

But the fourth inning kept going . . . After the Bulls went to the bullpen, Arnold doubled to left field to drive in his third run of the ballgame . . . Alex Lopez as the seventh batter of the inning, lifted a fly ball to center and drove in a run on the sacrifice fly . . . Cameron Nickens (2-for-3) capped the scoring with a two-run blast to left-center field, his fourth home run of the season, and Houston led 9-0 after the seven run fourth inning.

The Bulls scored a run in the fourth and another in the fifth, but the Cougars got those right back in the sixth inning . . . Arnold and Lopez les off the frame with singles . . . With two outs, Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly to right field and McMillan singled to shallow right and Houston again led by nine runs, 11-2.

Maddux Miller relieved Houston starter Kyle LaCalameto in the fifth inning with two outs to end the inning . . . Maddux also pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

Houston added two runs in the seventh, one on another sacrifice fly RBI by Lopez, and another when Anthony Tulimero singled, which also extended his reached-based streak to fourteen games, and the Cougars led 13-2.

Logan Clayton took the mound in the bottom of the seventh and retired all three batters he faced, striking out two, to end the ballgame at the end of the seventh because of the run rule . . . Clayton only threw seventeen pitches to end the game . . . Miller improves to 3-0 this season with the win.

The Cougars collected sixteen base hits in the seven inning game, including each starter, and the Cougars scored multiple runs in four different innings . . . Meanwhile, the trio of Houston arms limited the Bulls to just six hits while striking out nine.

Houston and South Florida have dodged the weather bullet, which rearranged the weekend schedule, thus far . . . If all goes as planned, the two teams will conclude their series on Sunday morning with another 9am central time first pitch . . . Expect Nathan Medrano to make the start for Houston as they go for the sweep.